An Examination of FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC Ionospheric Electron Density Profile: Data Quality Criteria and Comparisons with the IRI Model

  • Author(s): Kuo-Feng Yang, Yen-Hsyang Chu, Ching-Lun Su, Hsiao-Tsun Ko, and Chien-Ya Wang
  • DOI:


  • Keywords: IRI model, Peak height, Peak electron density



In this article, we analyze the properties of ionospheric electron density profiling retrieved from FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC radio occultation measurements. Two parameters, namely, the gradient and fluctuation of the topside electron density profile, serve as indicators to quantitatively describe the data quality of the retrieved electron density profile. On the basis of 8 month data (June 2006 - January 2007), we find that on average 93% of the electron density profiles have upper electron density gradients and electron density fluctuations smaller than -0.02 #/m3/m and 0.2, respectively, which can be treated as good data for further analysis. The same results are also achieved for the peak height of the electron density. After removing the questionable data, we compare the general behaviors of the electron density between FORMOSAT-3 and the IRI model. It is found that the global distributions of the peak height and the peak electron density for the FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC data are generally consistent with those for the IRI model. However, a significant difference between their scale heights of the topside electron density profiles is found. It suggests that the shape of the topside electron density profile in the IRI model should be revised accordingly such that it more closely resembles the real situation.

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