Challenges in topside ionospheric modelling over South Africa

Sibanda, P. (2010) Challenges in topside ionospheric modelling over South Africa. PhD thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

This thesis creates a basic framework and provides the information necessary to create a more accurate description of the topside ionosphere in terms of the altitude variation of the electron density (Ne) over the South African region. The detailed overview of various topside ionospheric modelling techniques, with specific emphasis on their implications for the efforts to model the South African topside, provides a starting point towards achieving the goals. The novelty of the thesis lies in the investigation of the applicabilityof three different techniques to model the South African topside ionosphere: (1) The possibility of using Artificial Neural Network (ANN) techniques for empirical modelling of the topside ionosphere based on the available, however irregularly sampled, topside sounder measurements. The goal of this model was to test the ability of ANN techniques to capture the complex relationships between the various ionospheric variables using irregularly distributed measurements. While this technique is promising, the method did not show significant improvement over the International Reference Ionosphere (IRI) model results when compared with the actual measurements. (2) Application of the diffusive equilibrium theory. Although based on sound physics foundations, the method only operates on a generalised level leading to results that are not necessarily unique. Furthermore, the approach relies on many ionospheric variables as inputs which are derived from other models whose accuracy is not verified. (3) Attempts to complement the standard functional techniques, (Chapman, Epstein, Exponential and Parabolic), with Global Positioning System (GPS) and ionosonde measurements in an effort to provide deeper insights into the actual conditions within the ionosphere. The vertical Ne distribution is reconstructed by linking together the different aspects of the constituent ions and their transition height by considering how they influence the shape of the profile. While this approach has not been tested against actual measurements, results show that the method could be potentially useful for topside ionospheric studies. Due to the limitations of each technique reviewed, this thesis observes that the employment of an approach that incorporates both theoretical onsiderations and empirical aspects has the potential to lead to a more accurate characterisation of the topside ionospheric behaviour, and resulting in improved models in terms of reliability and forecasting ability. The point is made that a topside sounder mission for South Africa would provide the required measured topside ionospheric data and answer the many science questions that this region poses as well as solving a number of the limitations set out in this thesis.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ionospheric electron density - South Africa, Neural networks (Computer science), Atmosphere, Upper, Ionosphere
Subjects:Q Science > QD Chemistry
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Physics & Electronics
ID Code:1841
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:07 Dec 2010 06:11
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:21
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