Radio Science

Total electron content over the Pan-American longitudes: March-April 1994


  • Patricia H. Doherty,

  • David N. Anderson,

  • John A. Klobuchar


An experimental campaign to measure diurnal changes in total electron content (TEC) over the wide latitude range from approximately 50°N to 40°S was carried out from March 28 through April 11, 1994, by monitoring the differential carrier phase from the U.S. Navy Navigation Satellite System using a chain of ground stations aligned along the approximate 70°W longitude meridian. This Pan-American campaign was conducted primarily to study the day-to-day variability of the equatorial anomaly region. The experimental plan included using the received values of TEC from the chain of stations to construct profiles of electron density versus latitude using tomographic reconstruction techniques and, then, to compare these reconstructions against a theoretical model of the low-latitude ionosphere. The diurnal changes in TEC along this latitude chain of stations showed a high degree of variability from day to day, especially during a magnetic storm which occurred near the beginning of the campaign. The equatorial anomaly in TEC showed large changes in character in the two hemispheres, as well as differences in magnitude from day to day. The latitudinal gradients of TEC, especially in the lower midlatitudes, also showed large differences between magnetic storm and quiet conditions. Comparisons of the TEC data with the theoretical model illustrate the sensitivity of the model calculations to changes in magnetic E×B drift and serves to validate the strong influence that these drifts have on the formation and the strength of the equatorial anomaly regions.