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Keywords:

  • FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC;
  • Improved Abel inversion;
  • Jicamarca DPS;
  • electron density;
  • radio occultation

[1] Inversion techniques applied to GPS-LEO radio occultation data allow the retrieval of accurate and worldwide-distributed refractivity profiles, which, in the case of the ionosphere, can be converted into electron densities providing information regarding the electron content distribution in this atmospheric region. In order to guarantee the accuracy of the electron density retrievals, two key points should be taken into account: the horizontal gradients of the electronic distribution and the topside electron content above the LEO orbit. The deployment in April 2006 of the satellite Constellation Observing System for Meteorology Ionosphere and Climate (FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC), carrying GPS receivers on board, provides valuable radio occultation data with global and almost uniform coverage overcoming the sparsity of data from previous LEO missions (for instance, GPS/MET, CHAMP, and SAC-C). This is also one of the main limitations of other sources providing direct observations, such as ionosondes. In this study, the improved Abel transform inversion is used to analyze derived ionospheric electron density profiles of the whole year 2007 in a scenario with very high electron density gradients: The neighboring area of Jicamarca (76.9°W, 12°S, dip latitude: 1°N), Perú, located at very low latitude and close to the geomagnetic equator, and the influence of the Appleton-Hartree equatorial anomaly (Davies, 1990). Moreover, different strategies to account for the topside electron content in the occultation data inversion are compared and discussed, taking advantage of the availability of FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC data sets and manually calibrated measurements from Jicamarca DPS. Statistical results show that for the current scenario the improvements are only about 10%, evidencing that the lack of colocation is one important source of error for the classical Abel inversion. Implications with respect to the plasmaspheric contribution have been derived from this data set analysis, in particular, the necessity to account for it specially when the Total Electron Content (TEC) is small.