University of Oulu

McKay, D., Vierinen, J., Kero, A., and Partamies, N.: On the determination of ionospheric electron density profiles using multi-frequency riometry, Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 11, 25–35,, 2022

On the determination of ionospheric electron density profiles using multi-frequency riometry

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Author: McKay, Derek1,2; Vierinen, Juha3; Kero, Antti4;
Organizations: 1FINCA, Turku University, Turku, Finland
2Metsähovi Radio Observatory, Aalto University, Kylmälä, Finland
3Department of Physics and Technology, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway
4Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5UNIS University Centre in Svalbard, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway
6Birkeland Centre for Space Science, Bergen, Norway
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Copernicus Publications, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-05-23


Radio wave absorption in the ionosphere is a function of electron density, collision frequency, radio wave polarisation, magnetic field and radio wave frequency. Several studies have used multi-frequency measurements of cosmic radio noise absorption to determine electron density profiles. Using the framework of statistical inverse problems, we investigated if an electron density altitude profile can be determined by using multi-frequency, dual-polarisation measurements. It was found that the altitude profile cannot be uniquely determined from a “complete” measurement of radio wave absorption for all frequencies and two polarisation modes. This implies that accurate electron density profile measurements cannot be ascertained using multi-frequency riometer data alone and that the reconstruction requires a strong additional a priori assumption of the electron density profile, such as a parameterised model for the ionisation source. Nevertheless, the spectral index of the absorption could be used to determine if there is a significant component of hard precipitation that ionises the lower part of the D region, but it is not possible to infer the altitude distribution uniquely with this technique alone.

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Series: Geoscientific instrumentation, methods and data systems
ISSN: 2193-0856
ISSN-E: 2193-0864
ISSN-L: 2193-0856
Volume: 11
Pages: 25 - 35
DOI: 10.5194/gi-11-25-2022
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1171 Geosciences
Funding: The work by Derek McKay is partly supported by the Academy of Finland (project no. 322535). Juha Vierinen is supported by the Tromsø Science Foundation. The work of Antti Kero is funded by the Tenure Track Project in Radio Science at Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory and the University of Oulu. Noora Partamies is supported by the Research Council of Norway under CoE contract no. 223252 and a research grant contract (no. 287427).
Copyright information: © Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.