Effect of ray and speed perturbations on Ionospheric Tomography by Over-the-horizon radar: A new method

Monday, 15 December 2014: 4:15 PM
Corinna Roy1, Giovanni Occhipinti1, Lapo Boschi2 and Jean-Philippe MoliniƩ3, (1)Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Paris, France, (2)ISTeP Institut des Sciences de la Terre de Paris, Paris Cedex 05, France, (3)ONERA French Aerospace Lab, Palaiseau Cedex, France
Most recent methods in ionospheric tomography are based on the inversion of the Total Electron Content (TEC) measured by ground-based GPS receivers. As a consequence of the high frequency of the GPS signal and the absence of horizontal ray paths, the electron density structure is mainly reconstructed in the F2 region (300 km), where the ionosphere reaches the maximum of ionization, and is not sensitive to the lower ionospheric structure. We propose here a new tomographic method of the lower ionosphere, based on the full inversion of over-the-horizon (OTH) radar data. Previous studies using OTH radar for ionospheric tomography inverted only the leading edge echo curve of backscatter ionograms. The major advantage of our methodology is taking into account, numerically and jointly, the effect that the electron density perturbations induce not only in the speed of electromagnetic waves, but also on the ray-path geometry. This last point is extremely critical for OTH radar inversions as the emitted signal propagates through the ionosphere between a fixed starting-point (the radar) and an unknown end-point on the Earth surface where the signal is backscattered. We detail our ionospheric tomography method with the aid of benchmark tests. Having proved the necessity to take into account both effects simultaneously, we apply our method to real data. This is the first time that the effect of the ray-path deflection has been quantified and that the ionospheric plasma density has been estimated over the entirety of Europe with an OTH radar.