The processing of measurement data from satellite constellations such as Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), including the well-known Global Positioning System (GPS), have been successfully applied to virtually all areas of geophysical sciences. In this work, a method is described where Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are employed to build hourly ionospheric Total Electron Content (TEC) maps for 2011 over the southern Iberian Peninsula. The maps used GPS-derived geometryfree linear combinations attained from station data from the Algarve, Alentejo (Portugal), Andalusia, Murcia and Valencia (Spain) regions. Following the construction of the ionospheric maps, it was possible to relate these results to natural phenomena. The observed phenomena included diurnal and seasonal variations: daytime TEC maxima, nighttime TEC peaks, summer TEC value decreases, and spring and fall TEC maxima. After validation of these periodic phenomena, detection of non-periodic changes, such as solar flares and tectonic interactions with the ionosphere were attempted. The results showed a TEC increase following a selected solar flare event and a potential TEC build-up prior to the 2011 Lorca earthquake. Further studies could open up the possibility of building early warning systems. The presented methods, based on available software packages, are also of value in monitoring the effect of the ionosphere on radio signals, satellite and mobile communication, power grids, and for accurate GNSS navigation.
- Earthquake precursors
- geographic information systems
- global positioning system
- regional ionospheric maps
- total electron content