The prediction performance of ionospheric conductivity and electron density (ICED), RADAR C, and Ionospheric Communications Analysis and Predictions Program (IONCAP) climatological ionospheric models is evaluated for different regions and sunspot number inputs. With conventional sunspot numbers, based on the observed solar 10.7-cm flux, ƒ0F2 prediction errors at Boulder for a particular month are no less than 18%. Use of the U.S. Air Force Global Weather Center (AFGWC) global sunspot number SSNE, extracted from ionosonde data for use with the ICED model, gives 15% errors. A dramatic improvement involves the use of single-station ionospheric data to update the driving parameters of an ionospheric model for near-real-time (NRT) predictions of ƒ0F2 and other ionospheric and HF circuit parameters. For middle latitudes the improvement extends out thousands of kilometers from the update point to points of comparable corrected geomagnetic latitude. At very large distances an update scheme which exploits a strong global dependence on geomagnetic activity shows promise. For the purpose of NRT predictions of the entire electron density profile the use of two distinct effective sunspot numbers for the bottomside, coupled with one or more model parameters for the topside, is suggested for model updates from a single station.
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