Principle of locality and analysis of radio occultation data

Alexander G. Pavelyev, Kefei Zhang, Yuei An Liou, Alexey A. Pavelyev, Chuan Sheng Wang, Jens Wickert, Torsten Schmidt, Yuriy Kuleshov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A fundamental principle of local interaction of radio waves with a refractive spherical medium is formulated and illustrated using the radio occultation (RO) method of remote sensing of the atmosphere and the ionosphere of the Earth and the planets. In accordance with this principle, the main contribution to variations of the amplitude and the phase of radio waves propagating through a medium makes a neighborhood of a tangential point, where the gradient of the refractive index is perpendicular to the radio wave trajectory. A necessary and sufficient condition (a criterion) is established to detect the displacement of the tangential point from the radio ray perigee using analysis of the RO experimental data. This criterion is applied to the identification and the location of layers in the atmosphere and the ionosphere by the use of Global Positioning System RO data. RO data from the CHAllenge Minisatellite Payload (CHAMP) are used to validate the criterion introduced when significant variations of the amplitude and the phase of the RO signals are observed at the RO ray perigee altitudes below 80 km. The detected criterion opens a new avenue in terms of measuring the altitude and the slope of the atmospheric and ionospheric layers. This is important for the location determination of the wind shear and the direction of internal wave propagation in the lower ionosphere and possibly in the atmosphere. The new criterion provides an improved estimation of the altitude and the location of the ionospheric plasma layers compared with the backpropagation radio-holographic method previously used.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6416041
Pages (from-to)3240-3249
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2013


  • Bistatic remote sensing
  • geophysical signal processing
  • global positioning system
  • occultations
  • radio wave propagation
  • terrestrial and planetary atmospheres and ionospheres


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