International Reference Ionosphere Validation and IMprovement

The main aim of this proposal is to advance scientific excellence in the field of global ionospheric modeling based on novel validation studies for improving and upgrading the IRI (International Reference Ionosphere) model specification. The topside IRI validation and improvement will be based on accurate topside electron density profiles, from present GNSS radio occultation (RO) mission (FORMOSAT7/COSMIC2) and in-situ electron density values from the ESA Swarm mission selected under strict, space and time, colocation criteria with Digisonde measurements from the Global Ionospheric Radio Observatory. This criterion, in conjunction with agreement in peak density and height with Digisonde electron density profiles controls the accuracy of a topside radio occultation profile since the error in the Abel inversion accumulates from topside to bottomside. The bottomside improvement is based on a novel methodology that will be applied, to analyse data from Nicosia Digisonde in order to enable the augmentation of the existing E-region model in IRI, with a sporadic E layer, occurrence and intensity, extension. The ultimate objective is to embark on innovative research activities in order to enhance the research potential in Cyprus Ionospheric Research Group (CyIRG) at Frederick Research Center under the constructive collaboration with established fellow scientists from George Mason University, USA and Professor Christos Haldoupis, an expert in the middle mesosphere/lower-thermosphere (MLT) region.

The project consists of 6 work packages:

WP1. Project Management

WP2. Dissemination and Communication Activities

WP3. Sporadic E investigation

WP4. Topside Data preparation

WP5. IRI topside validation

WP6. IRI topside improvement

The principal objective of the proposed project (IRIVIM) is to enhance top-level and internationally-significant scientific Research and Innovation (R&I) activities in the field of ionospheric monitoring and modeling for the purpose of promoting high-level scientific research in the context of IRI (International Reference Ionosphere) model validation and subsequent recommendations for its improvement. This aim will be pursued by utilizing space-based data from the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) radio occultation (RO) FORMOSAT7/COSMIC2 (F7/C2) constellation mission and the European Space Agency three-satellite (ESA) Swarm mission along with ground-based data from Digital ionosonde (Digisonde) ionospheric radars. In the frames of this proposal we aspire to embark on innovative research activities in order to enhance the visibility and research potential of the Cyprus Ionospheric Research Group (CyIRG) at Frederick Research Center (FRC) under the constructive collaboration with an established fellow scientist, Dr Dieter Bilitza from George Mason University, USA and a science expert, Prof Christos Haldoupis (under FRC).

The main originality with respect to topside IRI aspects, to be addressed in the frames of this proposal, stems out of the criteria that will be imposed in selecting appropriate RO topside Electron Density Profiles (EDPs) for IRI validation and improvement. The main originality with respect to bottomside IRI aspects, is premised on an investigation on sporadic E layer (Es), occurrence and intensity, statistics over Nicosia Digisonde station that will subsequently support the development of a global IRI sporadic E layer model (in the future), which is currently not included in the IRI, though Es is crucial component relevant to a spectrum of applications related to IRI.

IRIVIM actions fall within the Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) 1-4, targeting specific gaps in the fundamental science and technology underlying global ionospheric monitoring and modeling. These gaps are mainly associated with the fields of topside and bottomside ionospheric specification on a global scale and in particular over low-latitude regions. Filling the targeted gaps will enhance the knowledge and best practices on the aforementioned research fields at an international level, and will eventually result in refined scientific and technological recommendations (i) for the three dimensional electron density specification in the ionosphere, and (ii) characterization and modeling of the occurrence and strength (and ultimately expected impact) of a very important transient ionospheric phenomenon, such as sporadic E layers.

Haris Haralambous / Frederick Research Center

Christina Oikonomou / Frederick Research Center

Arun Kumar Singh / Frederick Research Center

Theodoros Leontiou / Frederick Research Center

Christos Haldoupis/ Frederick Research Center

Dieter Bilitza / George Mason University USA