The Total Electron Content From InSAR and GNSS: A Midlatitude Study

Elvira Musico*, Claudio Cesaroni, Luca Spogli, John Peter Merryman Boncori, Giorgiana De Franceschi, Roberto Seu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The total electron content (TEC) measured from the interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) and froma dense network of global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receivers are used to assess the capability of InSAR to retrieve ionospheric information, when the tropospheric contribution to the interferometric phase is reasonably negligible. With this aim, we select three night-time case studies over Italy and investigate the correlation between TEC from advanced land observing satellite-phased array type L-band synthetic aperture radar (ALOS-PALSAR) and from the Rete Integrata Nazionale GPS (RING) network, the latter considered as the reference true ionospheric TEC. To retrieve the TEC variability from ALOS-PALSAR, we first investigate the correlation between the integral of the azimuth shifts and the interferometric phase in the absence of ground motions (e.g., earthquakes) and/or heavy rain events. If correlation exists (as in two out of three case studies under investigation), we can assume the tropospheric contribution to the interferometric phase as negligible and the TEC variability from L-band InSAR can be retrieved. For these two case studies, the comparison between the TEC from the InSAR images and from the RING network is quite encouraging as the correlation coefficient is R similar to 0.67 in the first case and R similar to 0.83 in the second case. This result highlights the potential to combine InSAR and GNSS experimental measurements to investigate small-scale spatial variability of TEC, in particular over regions scarcely covered by ground-based GNSS receivers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalI E E E Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1725-1733
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Global positioning system
  • Ionosphere
  • Synthetic aperture radar (SAR)


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