DOI: 10.1029/2023ja031335 ISSN:

Parametric dependence of topside ionospheric empirical scale height and electron density profiles in NeQuick2 model over the equatorial and low latitudes and its consequences on the estimation of TEC

K. Venkatesh, D. Pallamraju, T. K. Pant, P. Suryawanshi
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


Constructing realistic vertical electron density profiles is a crucial step in accurately estimating the ionospheric Total Electron Content (TEC) in empirical models. Inadequate representation of electron density profiles leads to under‐ or over‐estimation of TEC in model outputs. One of the widely used ionospheric empirical model, the NeQuick2 exhibits large uncertainties over equatorial and low latitudes, particularly in the topside ionosphere. The NeQuick2 model employs semi Epstein type of polynomials to characterize the topside ionospheric structure, wherein, the scale height (H) is the key parameter. NeQuick2 model estimates H value using empirical formulations, which contain three major parameters namely, Ho – the scale height at the F‐layer peak, g – height gradient in H, and r – which controls the increase in H at higher altitudes. In this study, a systematic analysis has been carried out with particular focus on the equatorial and low latitudes to explore the variability of topside scale height and electron density profiles on the above three empirical parameters using COSMIC observations over Trivandrum and Ahmedabad, in India. Model uncertainties in estimating Ho and their impacts on the estimation of TEC are investigated. Data assimilation analysis has been carried out to obtain a quantitative understanding on the effect of deviations in topside scale height on the uncertainties in accurate estimation of TEC over equatorial and low latitudes. This study reveals the impact of scale height uncertainties on errors in modelled TEC and demonstrates the need for improvement in empirical formulations for improving accuracies in ionospheric modelling over equatorial and low latitude sectors.

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