Ionospheric corrections for SHF satellite radar altimetry
To measure the satellite-ocean altitude, a radar altimeter transmits a nadir-directed microwave pulse and times the return of the surface reflection. The intervening free electrons of the ionosphere cause group delay of the pulse resulting in an overestimate of the platform altitude by an amount directly proportional to the sub-satellite electron content. In effect the figure of the ocean surface detected by the altimeter is modulated by the spatial and temporal variation of the ionospheric electron content. A two stage technique has been developed to remove the bias imposed by the ionosphere on altimetric measurements. The first stage generates a prediction of electron content based on ionospheric climatology. The second stage is an adaptive modelling procedure which makes use of data from satellite-ranging radar systems. The first chapter of this thesis gives an introduction to the Earth's ionosphere, describes its effect on radar altimetry and suggests a technique to correct for this influence. Chapter Two reviews previous work in related areas before Chapter Three embarks on a description of the spatial and temporal behaviour of electron content. Chapter Four describes the mathematical sub-models which form the basis of the empirical model and Chapter Five is devoted to the calibration and validation of this model. Chapter Six covers the calculation of the coherence functions of electron content which are crucial for the operation of the adaptive procedure. Chapter Seven compares the new model with one employed for a previous altimeter mission and Chapter Eight summarizes what has gone before and suggests topics for future research.