Open Access

Plasmaspheric electron content in the GPS ray paths over Japan under magnetically quiet conditions at high solar activity

  • N. Balan1, 2Email author,
  • Y. Otsuka1,
  • T. Tsugawa3,
  • S. Miyazaki4,
  • T. Ogawa1 and
  • K. Shiokawa1
Earth, Planets and Space201454:BF03352423

Received: 31 October 2000

Accepted: 19 March 2001

Published: 18 June 2014


Vertical total electron content (GPS-TEC) data obtained from the dual-frequency GPS receiver network (GEONET) in Japan are compared with those calculated using the Sheffield University plasmasphere-ionosphere model (SUPIM). The model is also used to estimate the electron content in the plasmaspheric sections of GPS ray paths for the three seasons of high solar activity (F10.7 = 165) under magnetically quiet conditions. According to the estimates, the plasmaspheric sections of vertical GPS ray paths over Japan at altitudes above the O+ to H+ transition height and above the upper altitude (2500 km) of Faraday rotation contain up to 11 and 9 TEC units (1 TEC unit = 1016 electrons m−2) of free electrons, respectively. The free electrons present above the Faraday rotation altitude can cause propagation errors of up to 4.9 ns in time delay and 1.6 m in range at the GPS L1 (1.57542 GHz) frequency. The plasmaspheric electron content, PEC, changes appreciably with season and latitude and very little with the time of the day. However, the percentage contribution of PEC to GPS-TEC changes most significantly with the time of the day; the contribution varies from a minimum of about 12% during daytime at equinox to a maximum of about 60% at night in winter.