Indexed on: 21 Dec '18Published on: 16 Dec '18Published in: Remote sensing
Dual-frequency GNSS data processing is currently one of the most useful techniques for sounding the ionosphere. Hence, this work was aimed at the evaluation of ground-based GNSS data for the continuous monitoring of polar patches in both hemispheres. In this contribution, we proposed to use epoch-wise relative STEC values in order to detect these structures. The applied indicator is defined as a difference between an undifferenced geometry-free linear combination of GNSS signals and the background ionospheric variations, which were assessed with an iterative algorithm of four-degree polynomial fitting. The occurrence of patches during the St. Patrick geomagnetic storm was performed for validation purposes. The first part of the work confirmed the applicability of the relative STEC values for such investigations. On the other hand, it also revealed the limitations related to the inhomogeneous distribution of stations, which may affect the results in both hemispheres. This was confirmed with a preliminary cross-evaluation of GNSS and in situ SWARM datasets. Apart from the periods with a well-established coincidence, the opposite situation, when both methods indicated different parts of the polar ionosphere, was also observed. The second part of this contribution depicted the feasibility of continuous patch detection for both regions, and thus the interhemispheric comparison of the analyzed structures. It has demonstrated the strong disproportion between patches in the northern and southern hemispheres. This discrepancy seems to be related to the different amount of plasma propagating from the dusk sector, which is justified by the values of relative STEC at mid-latitudes. The observed structures are also strongly dependent on the orientation of the interplanetary magnetic field.