Improving the Topside Profile of Ionosonde with TEC Retrieved from Spaceborne Polarimetric SAR

Sensors (Basel). 2019 Jan 26;19(3):516. doi: 10.3390/s19030516.


Signals from spaceborne polarimetric synthetic aperture radar will suffer from Faraday rotations when they propagate through the ionosphere, especially those at L-band or lower frequencies, such as signals from the Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR). For this reason, Faraday rotation compensation should be considered. On the other hand, Faraday rotation could also be retrieved from distorted echoes. Moreover, combining Faraday rotation with the radar parameters and the model of magnetic field, we could derive the total electron content (TEC) along the signal path. Benefiting from the high spatial resolution of the SAR system, TEC obtained from PALSAR could be orders of magnitude higher in spatial resolution than that from GPS. Besides, we demonstrated that the precision of TEC from PALSAR is also much higher than that from GPS. With the precise TEC available, we could fuse it with data from other ionosphere detection devices to improve their performances. In this paper, we adopted it to help modify the empirically modeled topside profile of ionosonde. The results show that the divergence between the modified profile and the referenced incoherent scattering radar profile reduced by about 30 percent when compared to the original ionosonde topside profile.

Keywords: ionospheric electron density distribution; polarimetric synthetic aperture radar; total electron content.