In this work, a solar illumination model of the Earth’s atmosphere is developed. The developed model allows us to determine with extreme accuracy how the atmospheric illumination varies during night hours on a global scale. This time-dependent variation in illumination causes a series of sudden changes in the entire Earth-atmosphere-ionosphere system of considerable interest for various research sectors and applications related to climate change, ionospheric disturbances, navigation and global positioning systems. The use of the proposed solar illumination model to calculate the time-dependent Solar Terminator Height (STH
) at the global scale is also presented.Time-dependent STH
impact on the measurements of ionospheric Total Electron Content (TEC
) is, for the first time, investigated on the basis of 20 years long time series of GPS-based measurements collected at ground. The correlation analysis, performed in the post-sunset hours, allows new insights into the dependence of TEC
relation on the different periods (seasons) of observation and solar activity conditions.
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