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Analyses of Inhomogeneities in Radiosonde Temperature and Humidity Time Series

Panmao ZhaiNational Climatic Data Center, National Environmental Satellite, Data, and information Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Asheville, North Carolina

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Robert E. EskridgeNational Climatic Data Center, National Environmental Satellite, Data, and information Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Asheville, North Carolina

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Abstract

Twice daily radiosonde data from selected stations in the United States (period 1948 to 1990) and China (period 1958 to 1990) were sorted into time series. These stations have one sounding taken in darkness and the other in sunlight. The analysis shows that the 0000 and 1200 UTC time series are highly correlated. Therefore, the Easterling and Peterson technique was tested on the 0000 and 1200 time series to detect inhomogeneities and to estimate the size of the biases. Discontinuities were detected using the difference series created from the 0000 and 1200 UTC time series. To establish that the detected bias was significant, a t test was performed to confirm that the change occurs in the daytime series but not in the nighttime series.

Both U.S. and Chinese radiosonde temperature and humidity data include inhomogeneities caused by changes in radiosonde sensors and observation times. The U.S. humidity data have inhomogeneities that were caused by instrument changes and the censoring of data. The practice of reporting relative humidity as 19% when it is lower than 20% or the temperature is below −40°C is called censoring. This combination of procedural and instrument changes makes the detection of biases and adjustment of the data very difficult. In the Chinese temperatures, them are inhomogeneities related to a change in the radiation correction procedure.

Test results demonstrate that a modified Easterling and Peterson method is suitable for use in detecting and adjusting time series radiosonde data.

Accurate stations histories are very desirable. Stations histories can confirm that detected inhomogeneities are related to instrument or procedural changes. Adjustments can then he made to the data with some confidence.

Abstract

Twice daily radiosonde data from selected stations in the United States (period 1948 to 1990) and China (period 1958 to 1990) were sorted into time series. These stations have one sounding taken in darkness and the other in sunlight. The analysis shows that the 0000 and 1200 UTC time series are highly correlated. Therefore, the Easterling and Peterson technique was tested on the 0000 and 1200 time series to detect inhomogeneities and to estimate the size of the biases. Discontinuities were detected using the difference series created from the 0000 and 1200 UTC time series. To establish that the detected bias was significant, a t test was performed to confirm that the change occurs in the daytime series but not in the nighttime series.

Both U.S. and Chinese radiosonde temperature and humidity data include inhomogeneities caused by changes in radiosonde sensors and observation times. The U.S. humidity data have inhomogeneities that were caused by instrument changes and the censoring of data. The practice of reporting relative humidity as 19% when it is lower than 20% or the temperature is below −40°C is called censoring. This combination of procedural and instrument changes makes the detection of biases and adjustment of the data very difficult. In the Chinese temperatures, them are inhomogeneities related to a change in the radiation correction procedure.

Test results demonstrate that a modified Easterling and Peterson method is suitable for use in detecting and adjusting time series radiosonde data.

Accurate stations histories are very desirable. Stations histories can confirm that detected inhomogeneities are related to instrument or procedural changes. Adjustments can then he made to the data with some confidence.

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