Estimating error variances of a microwave sensor and dropsondes aboard the Global Hawk in hurricanes using the three-cornered hat method

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  • 1 Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, University of Miami
  • 2 NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Hurricane Research Division
  • 3 COSMIC Program Office, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

This study estimates the random error variances and standard deviations (STDs) for four data sets: Global Hawk (GH) dropsondes (DROP), the High-Altitude Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit Sounding Radiometer (HAMSR) aboard the GH, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) ERA5 reanalysis, and the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) model, using the three-cornered hat (3CH) method. These estimates are made during the 2016 Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT) season in the environment of four tropical cyclones from August to October. For temperature and specific and relative humidity, the ERA5, HWRF, and DROP data sets all have similar magnitudes of errors, with ERA5 having the smallest. The error STDs of temperature and specific humidity are less than 0.8 K and 1.0 g kg-1 over most of the troposphere, while relative humidity error STDs increase from less than 5% near the surface to between 10 and 20% in the upper troposphere. The HAMSR bias-corrected data have larger errors, with estimated error STDs of temperature and specific humidity in the lower troposphere between 1.5 and 2.0 K and 1.5 and 2.5 g kg-1. HAMSR’s relative humidity error STD increases from approximately 10% in the lower troposphere to 30% in the upper troposphere. The 3CH method error estimates are generally consistent with prior independent estimates of errors and uncertainties for the HAMSR and dropsonde data sets, although they are somewhat larger, likely due to the inclusion of representativeness errors (differences associated with different spatial and temporal scales represented by the data).

Correspondence to: Andrew C. Kren (andrew.kren@noaa.gov)

Abstract

This study estimates the random error variances and standard deviations (STDs) for four data sets: Global Hawk (GH) dropsondes (DROP), the High-Altitude Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit Sounding Radiometer (HAMSR) aboard the GH, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) ERA5 reanalysis, and the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) model, using the three-cornered hat (3CH) method. These estimates are made during the 2016 Sensing Hazards with Operational Unmanned Technology (SHOUT) season in the environment of four tropical cyclones from August to October. For temperature and specific and relative humidity, the ERA5, HWRF, and DROP data sets all have similar magnitudes of errors, with ERA5 having the smallest. The error STDs of temperature and specific humidity are less than 0.8 K and 1.0 g kg-1 over most of the troposphere, while relative humidity error STDs increase from less than 5% near the surface to between 10 and 20% in the upper troposphere. The HAMSR bias-corrected data have larger errors, with estimated error STDs of temperature and specific humidity in the lower troposphere between 1.5 and 2.0 K and 1.5 and 2.5 g kg-1. HAMSR’s relative humidity error STD increases from approximately 10% in the lower troposphere to 30% in the upper troposphere. The 3CH method error estimates are generally consistent with prior independent estimates of errors and uncertainties for the HAMSR and dropsonde data sets, although they are somewhat larger, likely due to the inclusion of representativeness errors (differences associated with different spatial and temporal scales represented by the data).

Correspondence to: Andrew C. Kren (andrew.kren@noaa.gov)
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