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Satellite and VIZ–Radiosonde Intercomparisons for Diagnosis of Nonclimatic Influences

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  • 1 Earth System Science Center, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama
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Abstract

Radiosonde datasets of temperature often suffer from discontinuities due to changes in instrumentation, location, observing practices, and algorithms. To identify temporal discontinuities that affect the VIZ/Sippican family of radiosondes, the 1979–2004 time series of a composite of 31 VIZ stations are compared to composites of collocated values of layer temperatures from two microwave sounding unit datasets—the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and Remote Sensing Systems (RSS). Discontinuities in the radiosonde time series relative to the two satellite datasets were detected with high significance and with similar magnitudes; however, some instances occurred where only one satellite dataset differed from the radiosondes. For the products known as lower troposphere (LT; surface–300 hPa) and midtroposphere (MT; surface–75-hPa layer), significant discontinuities relative to both satellite datasets were found—two cases for LT and four for MT. These are likely associated with changes in the radiosonde system. Three apparent radiosonde discontinuities were also determined for the lower-stratospheric product (LS; 150–15 hPa). Because they cannot be definitely traced to changes in the radiosonde system, they could be the result of common errors in the satellite products. When adjustments are applied to the radiosondes based independently on each satellite dataset, 26-yr trends of UAH (RSS) are consistent with the radiosondes for LT, MT, and LS at the level of ±0.06, ±0.04, and ±0.07 (±0.12, ±0.10, and ±0.10) K decade−1. Also, simple statistical retrievals based on radiosonde-derived relationships of LT, MT, and LS indicate a higher level of consistency with UAH products than with those of RSS.

Corresponding author address: John R. Christy, ESSC/Cramer Hall, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL 35899. Email: christy@nsstc.uah.edu

Abstract

Radiosonde datasets of temperature often suffer from discontinuities due to changes in instrumentation, location, observing practices, and algorithms. To identify temporal discontinuities that affect the VIZ/Sippican family of radiosondes, the 1979–2004 time series of a composite of 31 VIZ stations are compared to composites of collocated values of layer temperatures from two microwave sounding unit datasets—the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and Remote Sensing Systems (RSS). Discontinuities in the radiosonde time series relative to the two satellite datasets were detected with high significance and with similar magnitudes; however, some instances occurred where only one satellite dataset differed from the radiosondes. For the products known as lower troposphere (LT; surface–300 hPa) and midtroposphere (MT; surface–75-hPa layer), significant discontinuities relative to both satellite datasets were found—two cases for LT and four for MT. These are likely associated with changes in the radiosonde system. Three apparent radiosonde discontinuities were also determined for the lower-stratospheric product (LS; 150–15 hPa). Because they cannot be definitely traced to changes in the radiosonde system, they could be the result of common errors in the satellite products. When adjustments are applied to the radiosondes based independently on each satellite dataset, 26-yr trends of UAH (RSS) are consistent with the radiosondes for LT, MT, and LS at the level of ±0.06, ±0.04, and ±0.07 (±0.12, ±0.10, and ±0.10) K decade−1. Also, simple statistical retrievals based on radiosonde-derived relationships of LT, MT, and LS indicate a higher level of consistency with UAH products than with those of RSS.

Corresponding author address: John R. Christy, ESSC/Cramer Hall, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL 35899. Email: christy@nsstc.uah.edu

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