Anomalies in broadcast ionospheric coefficients recorded by GPS receivers over the past two solar cycles (1992–2013)

Zhizhao Liu, Zhe Yang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The anomaly phenomenon of broadcast ionospheric model coefficients of the Global Positioning System (GPS) is revealed after analyzing the navigation file data collected from all the IGS (International GNSS Service) stations worldwide over a 22-year period (1992–2013). GPS broadcast ionospheric coefficients widely used by many single-frequency users to correct the ionosphere errors for numerous GPS applications are usually believed to have only one set/version per day. However, it is found that GPS receivers from the IGS network can report as many as eight sets/versions of ionospheric coefficients in a day. In order to investigate the possible factors for such an anomalous phenomenon, the relationship between the number of coefficient sets and solar cycle, the receiver geographic locations, and receiver types/models are analyzed in detail. The results indicate that most of the coefficients show an annual variation. During the active solar cycle period from mid-1999 to mid-2001, all of the coefficients extracted from IGS navigation files behaved anomalously. Our analysis shows that the anomaly is also associated with GPS receiver types/models. Some types/models of GPS receivers report one set/version of ionospheric coefficients daily, while others report multiple sets. Our analysis also suggests that the ionospheric coefficient anomaly is not necessarily related to ionospheric scintillations. No correlation between the anomaly and geographic location of GPS receivers has been found in the analysis. Using the ionospheric coefficient data collected from 1998 to 2013, the impact of ionospheric coefficient anomaly on vertical total electron content (VTEC) calculation using the Klobuchar model has been evaluated with respect to the Global Ionospheric Maps generated by the Center for Orbit Determination in Europe. With different sets of coefficients recorded on the same day, the resulting VTEC values are dramatically different. For instance on June 1, 2000, the largest VTEC at one of our test stations can be as large as 153.3 TECu (total electron content unit) using one set of coefficients, which is 16.36 times larger than the smallest VTEC of 9.37 TECu computed from using another set of coefficients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-37
Number of pages15
JournalGPS Solutions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Anomaly and impact analysis
  • Broadcast ionospheric coefficients
  • Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • Klobuchar model
  • Vertical total electron content (VTEC)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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