Open Access

A new technique for mapping of total electron content using GPS network in Japan

Earth, Planets and Space201454:BF03352422

Received: 31 October 2000

Accepted: 7 December 2001

Published: 18 June 2014


The dual frequency radio signals of the Global Positioning System (GPS) allow measurements of the total number of electrons, called total electron content (TEC), along a ray path from GPS satellite to receiver. We have developed a new technique to construct two-dimensional maps of absolute TEC over Japan by using GPS data from more than 1000 GPS receivers. A least squares fitting procedure is used to remove instrumental biases inherent in the GPS satellite and receiver. Two-dimensional maps of absolute vertical TEC are derived with time resolution of 30 seconds and spatial resolution of 0.15° × 0.15° in latitude and longitude. Our method is validated in two ways. First, TECs along ray paths from the GPS satellites are simulated using a model for electron contents based on the IRI-95 model. It is found that TEC from our method is underestimated by less than 3 TECU. Then, estimated vertical GPS TEC is compared with ionospheric TEC that is calculated from simultaneous electron density profile obtained with the MU radar. Diurnal and day-to-day variation of the GPS TEC follows the TEC behavior derived from MU radar observation but the GPS TEC is 2 TECU larger than the MU radar TEC on average. This difference can be attributed to the plasmaspheric electron content along the GPS ray path. This method is also applied to GPS data during a magnetic storm of September 25, 1998. An intense TEC enhancement, probably caused by a northward expansion of the equatorial anomaly, was observed in the southern part of Japan in the evening during the main phase of the storm.