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Steven R. Chiswell, Steven Businger, Michael Bevis, Fredrick Solheim, Christian Rocken, and Randolph Ware


Water vapor radiometer (WVR) retrieval algorithms require a priori information on atmospheric conditions along the line of sight of the radiometer in order to derive opacities from observed brightness temperatures. This paper's focus is the mean radiating temperature of the atmosphere (T mr), which is utilized in these algorithms to relate WVR measurements to integrated water vapor. Current methods for specifying T mr rely on the climatology of the WVR site-for example, a seasonal average-or information from nearby soundings to specify T mr. However, values of T mr, calculated from radiosonde data, not only vary according to site and season but also exhibit large fluctuations in response to local weather conditions. By utilizing output from numerical weather prediction (NWP) models, T mr can be accurately prescribed for an arbitrary WVR site at a specific time. Temporal variations in local weather conditions can he resolved by NWP models on timescales shorter than standard radiosonde soundings.

Currently used methods for obtaining T mr are reviewed. Values of T mr obtained from current methods and this new approach are compared to those obtained from in situ radiosonde soundings. The improvement of the T mr calculation using available model forecast data rather than climatological values yields a corresponding improvement of comparable magnitude in the retrieval of atmospheric opacity. Use of forecast model data relieves a WVR site of its dependency on local climatology or the necessity of a nearby sounding, allowing more accurate retrieval of observed conditions and increased flexibility in choosing site location. Furthermore, it is found that the calculation of precipitable water by means of atmospheric opacities does not require time-dependent tuning parameters when model data are used. These results were obtained using an archived subset of the full nested grid model output. The added horizontal and vertical resolution of operational data should further improve this approach.

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Steven Businger, Steven R. Chiswell, Michael Bevis, Jingping Duan, Richard A. Anthes, Christian Rocken, Randolph H. Ware, Michael Exner, T. VanHove, and Fredrick S. Solheim

This paper provides an overview of applications of the Global Positioning System (GPS) for active measurement of the Earth's atmosphere. Microwave radio signals transmitted by GPS satellites are delayed (refracted) by the atmosphere as they propagate to Earth-based GPS receivers or GPS receivers carried on low Earth orbit satellites.

The delay in GPS signals reaching Earth-based receivers due to the presence of water vapor is nearly proportional to the quantity of water vapor integrated along the signal path. Measurement of atmospheric water vapor by Earth-based GPS receivers was demonstrated during the GPS/STORM field project to be comparable and in some respects superior to measurements by ground-based water vapor radiometers. Increased spatial and temporal resolution of the water vapor distribution provided by the GPS/STORM network proved useful in monitoring the moisture-flux convergence along a dryline and the decrease in integrated water vapor associated with the passage of a midtropospheric cold front, both of which triggered severe weather over the area during the course of the experiment.

Given the rapid growth in regional networks of continuously operating Earth-based GPS receivers currently being implemented, an opportunity exists to observe the distribution of water vapor with increased spatial and temporal coverage, which could prove valuable in a range of operational and research applications in the atmospheric sciences.

The first space-based GPS receiver designed for sensing the Earth's atmosphere was launched in April 1995. Phase measurements of GPS signals as they are occluded by the atmosphere provide refractivity profiles (see the companion article by Ware et al. on page 19 of this issue). Water vapor limits the accuracy of temperature recovery below the tropopause because of uncertainty in the water vapor distribution. The sensitivity of atmospheric refractivity to water vapor pressure, however, means that refractivity profiles can in principle yield information on the atmospheric humidity distribution given independent information on the temperature and pressure distribution from NWP models or independent observational data.

A discussion is provided of some of the research opportunities that exist to capitalize on the complementary nature of the methods of active atmospheric monitoring by GPS and other observation systems for use in weather and climate studies and in numerical weather prediction models.

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