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Measurement of Humidity Profiles in the Atmosphere by the Global Positioning System and Radar Wind Profilers

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  • 1 Science and Technology Corporation/NCAA/Environmental Technology Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 NOAA/ERL/Environmental Technology Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

Bragg backscatter of radar waves from elevated turbulent layers is very highly correlated with the height profile of the gradient of radio refractive index through elevated turbulent layers, as has often been documented in past research. However, many users need profiles of radio refractive index or the associated humidity rather than profiles of their gradients. Simple integration of the gradients is usually not feasible because clutter and various noise sources often severely contaminate the lower-range gates. The authors show that if the total integrated humidity is independently available [for example, from the Global Positioning System (GPS)] and if the surface value of humidity is known, the profiles of humidity are retrievable with good accuracy. This method is demonstrated with data collected in Southern California, where 7 h of 449-MHz data were recorded along with GPS data. Three radiosonde balloons were launched during that period, and the profiles of humidity from the two sources are compared. Simulations are used to assess errors that result from factors such as lack of the sign of the humidity gradients. In conclusion, a humidity profile found by statistical retrieval is compared with one found by the technique proposed in this paper.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Earl E. Gossard, NOAA/ETL, R/E/ET4, 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80303.

Email: egossard@ett.noaa.gov

Abstract

Bragg backscatter of radar waves from elevated turbulent layers is very highly correlated with the height profile of the gradient of radio refractive index through elevated turbulent layers, as has often been documented in past research. However, many users need profiles of radio refractive index or the associated humidity rather than profiles of their gradients. Simple integration of the gradients is usually not feasible because clutter and various noise sources often severely contaminate the lower-range gates. The authors show that if the total integrated humidity is independently available [for example, from the Global Positioning System (GPS)] and if the surface value of humidity is known, the profiles of humidity are retrievable with good accuracy. This method is demonstrated with data collected in Southern California, where 7 h of 449-MHz data were recorded along with GPS data. Three radiosonde balloons were launched during that period, and the profiles of humidity from the two sources are compared. Simulations are used to assess errors that result from factors such as lack of the sign of the humidity gradients. In conclusion, a humidity profile found by statistical retrieval is compared with one found by the technique proposed in this paper.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Earl E. Gossard, NOAA/ETL, R/E/ET4, 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80303.

Email: egossard@ett.noaa.gov

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