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Caution here – although the amount of solar radiation at solar minimum is certainly more constant than at solar maximum, there are other processes that determine what the ionization is at any given time or any given location. A good example of this the following plot of the daily 3000 km MUF over the Wallops Island ionosonde for August 2009 assuming it’s the mid point of the 3000 km hop.
What’s interesting about August 2009 is there were no sunspots for the entire 31 day period, and the 10.7 cm solar flux was very constant. So the F2 region of the ionosphere varies considerably on a day-to-day basis even at solar minimum when the input solar radiation is quite constant. This plot shows why our propagation predictions are not daily predictions – in other words, they were not developed to take today’s sunspot number or today’s solar flux and give today’s state of the ionosphere. There’s just too much day-to-day variation to allow this. Thus the model of the ionosphere in VOACAP (and in our other programs) is a monthly median model in which you input the smoothed sunspot number or smoothed solar flux, and have an output (MUF and signal strength or SNR) that is a monthly median value with a range about this median. The proper way to compare measurements to predictions is to take data for an entire month, calculate the median, determine the range of variation, and then compare this to the prediction. It may be your comment about anomalous propagation on slide 28 was really within the statistical range of the prediction. All you can say in comparing a single day is the actual results appear to be within our statistical understanding of the variation of the ionosphere. A comment about ICEPAC – there has not been as much validation with ICEPAC as there has been with VOACAP. So I‘d be cautious in relying on ICEPAC as your truth. Even the input of a single 3-hour K index is an over-simplification of the actual processes in the atmosphere when geomagnetic field activity occurs.