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Global, real-time ionosphere specification for end-user communication and navigation products

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Monday, 24 January 2011
Global, real-time ionosphere specification for end-user communication and navigation products
W. Kent Tobiska, Utah State Univ., Logan, UT; and H. Carlson, R. W. Schunk, J. J. Sojka, L. Scherliess, L. Zhu, and L. C. Gardner

Space weather's effects upon the near-‐Earth environment are due to dynamic changes in the energy transfer processes from the Sun's photons, particles, and fields. Of the space environment domains that are affected by space weather, the ionosphere is the key region that affects communication and navigation systems. The Utah State University (USU) Space Weather Center (SWC) is a developer and producer of commercial space weather applications. A key system-‐level component for providing timely information about the effects of space weather is the Global Assimilation of Ionospheric Measurements (GAIM) system. GAIM, operated by SWC, improves real-‐time communication and navigation systems by continuously ingesting up to 10,000 slant TEC measurements every 15-‐minutes from approximately 500 stations. Using a Kalman filter, the background output from the physics-‐based Ionosphere Forecast Model (IFM) is adjusted to more accurately represent the actual ionosphere. An improved ionosphere leads to more useful derivative products. For example, SWC runs operational code, using GAIM, to calculate and report the global radio high frequency (HF) signal strengths for 24 world cities. This product is updated every 15 minutes at http://spaceweather.usu.edu and used by amateur radio operators. SWC also developed and provides through Apple iTunes the widely used real-‐time space weather iPhone app called SpaceWx for public space weather education. SpaceWx displays the real-‐time solar, heliosphere, magnetosphere, thermosphere, and ionosphere drivers to changes in the total electron content, for example. This smart phone app is tip of the “iceberg” of automated systems that provide space weather data; it permits instant understanding of the environment surrounding Earth as it dynamically changes. SpaceWx depends upon a distributed network that connects satellite and ground-‐based data streams with algorithms to quickly process the measurements into geophysical data, incorporate those data into operational space physics models, and finally generate visualization products such as the images, plots, and alerts that can be viewed on SpaceWx. In a real sense, the space weather community is now able to transition research models into operations through “proofing” products such as real-‐time disseminated of information through smart phones. We describe upcoming improvements for moving space weather information through automated systems into final derivative products.