In this article, we use the International Reference Ionosphere (IRI) model to simulate temporal and spatial distributions of global E region electron densities retrieved by the FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC satellites by means of GPS radio occultation (RO) technique. Despite regional discrepancies in the magnitudes of the E region electron density, the IRI model simulations can, on the whole, describe the COSMIC measurements in quality and quantity. On the basis of global ionosonde network and the IRI model, the retrieval errors of the global COSMIC-measured E region peak electron density (NmE) from July 2006 to July 2011 are examined and simulated. The COSMIC measurement and the IRI model simulation both reveal that the magnitudes of the percentage error (PE) and root mean-square-error (RMSE) of the relative RO retrieval errors of the NmE values are dependent on local time (LT) and geomagnetic latitude, with minimum in the early morning and at high latitudes and maximum in the afternoon and at middle latitudes. In addition, the seasonal variation of PE and RMSE values seems to be latitude dependent. After removing the IRI model-simulated GPS RO retrieval errors from the original COSMIC measurements, the average values of the annual and monthly mean percentage errors of the RO retrieval errors of the COSMIC-measured E region electron density are, respectively, substantially reduced by a factor of about 2.95 and 3.35, and the corresponding root-mean-square errors show averaged decreases of 15.6% and 15.4%, respectively. It is found that, with this process, the largest reduction in the PE and RMSE of the COSMIC-measured NmE occurs at the equatorial anomaly latitudes 10N-30N in the afternoon from 14 to 18 LT, with a factor of 25 and 2, respectively. Statistics show that the residual errors that remained in the corrected COSMIC-measured NmE vary in a range of -20% to 38%, which are comparable to or larger than the percentage errors of the IRI-predicted NmE fluctuating in a range of -6.5% to 20%.
- radio occultation retrieval error