Experimental Determination of the Ionospheric Effects and Cycle Slip Phenomena for Galileo and GPS in the Arctic

S. S. Beeck*, C. N. Mitchell, A. B.O. Jensen, L. Stenseng, T. Pinto Jayawardena, D. H. Olesen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The ionosphere can impair the accuracy, availability and reliability of satellite-based positioning, navigation and timing. The Arctic region is particularly affected by strong ionospheric gradients and phase scintillation, posing a safety issue for critical infrastructure and operations. Ionospheric warning and impact maps can provide support to Arctic operations, but to produce such maps threshold values have to be determined. This study investigates how such thresholds can be derived from the GPS and Galileo satellite signals. Rapid changes in total electron content (TEC) or scintillation-induced receiver tracking errors could result in cycle slips or even loss of lock. Cycle slips and data outages are used as a measure of impact on the receiver in this paper. For Galileo, 73.6% of the impacts were cycle slips and 26.4% were outages, while for GPS, 29.3% of the impacts were cycle slips and 70.7% were outages. Considering the sum of cycle slips and outages, it is worth noting that the sum of impacts for Galileo signals is larger than for GPS. A range of possible explanations have been examined through hardware-in-the-loop simulations. The simulations showed that the GPS L2 signal was not adequately tracked during rapid TEC changes and TEC changes were underestimated, thus the GPS cycle slips, derived from L1 and L2 derived TEC changes, were not all registered. These results are important in designing threshold values for TEC and for scintillation impact maps as well as for the operation of GNSS equipment in the Arctic. In particular, the results show that ionospheric changes could be underestimated if GPS L1 and L2 were used in isolation from other dual frequency combinations. It is the first time this analysis has been made for Greenland and the first time that the dual frequency derivation of ionospheric delay using GPS L1 and L2 has been shown to underestimate large TEC gradients. This has important implications for informing GNSS operations that rely on GPS to provide reliable estimates of the ionosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5685
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number24
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Arctic
  • Cycle slip
  • Galileo
  • GNSS
  • Greenland
  • Ionosphere
  • Scintillation
  • Sigma phi
  • Signal tracking
  • Space weather


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