Observational error estimation of FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC GPS radio occultation data

Shu Ya Chen, Ching Yuang Huang, Ying Hwa Kuo, Sergey Sokolovskiy

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28 Scopus citations


The Global Positioning System (GPS) radio occultation (RO) technique is becoming a robust global observing system. GPS RO refractivity is typically modeled at the ray perigee point by a "local refractivity operator" in a data assimilation system. Such modeling does not take into account the horizontal gradients that affect the GPS RO refractivity. A new observable (linear excess phase), defined as an integral of the refractivity along some fixed ray path within the model domain, has been developed in earlier studies to account for the effect of horizontal gradients. In this study, the error statistics of both observables (refractivity and linear excess phase) are estimated using the GPS RO data from the Formosa Satellite 3-Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate (FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC) mission. The National Meteorological Center (NMC) method, which is based on lagged forecast differences, is applied for evaluation of the model forecast errors that are used for estimation of the GPS RO observational errors. Also used are Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model forecasts in the East Asia region at 45-km resolution for one winter month (mid-January to mid-February) and one summer month (mid-August to mid-September) in 2007. Fractional standard deviations of the observational errors of refractivity and linear excess phase both show an approximately linear decrease with height in the troposphere and a slight increase above the tropopause; their maximum magnitude is about 2.2% (2.5%) for refractivity and 1.1% (1.3%) for linear excess phase in the lowest 2 km for the winter (summer) month. An increase of both fractional observational errors near the surface in the summer month is attributed mainly to a larger amount of water vapor. The results indicate that the fractional observational error of refractivity is about twice as large as that of linear excess phase, regardless of season. The observational errors of both linear excess phase and refractivity are much less latitude dependent for summer than for winter. This difference is attributed to larger latitudinal variations of the specific humidity in winter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)853-865
Number of pages13
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Error analysis
  • General circulation models
  • Global positioning systems (GPS)
  • Satellite observations
  • Soundings


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