An aircraft prototype of the High-Resolution Interferometer Sounder (HIS) was flown over Tennesse and northern Alabama during summer 1986. HIS temperature and dewpoint soundings were examined on two flight days to determine their error characteristics and utility in mesoscale analyses. Random errors were calculated from structure functions while total errors were obtained by pairing the HIS soundings with radiosonde-derived profiles. Random temperature errors were found to be less than 1°C at most levels, but random dewpoint errors ranged from 1° to 5°C. Total errors of both parameters were considerably greater, with dewpoint errors especially large on the day having a pronounced subsidence inversion.
Cumulus cloud cover on 15 June limited HIS mesoscale analyses on that day. Previously undetected clouds were found in many HIS fields of view, and these probably produced the low-level horizontal temperature and dewpoint variations observed in the retrievals. HIS dewpoints at 300 mb indicated a strong moisture gradient that was confirmed by GOES 6.7-µm imagery.
HIS mesoscale analyses on 19 June revealed a tongue of humid air stretching across the study area. The moist region was confirmed by radiosonde data and imagery from the Multispectral Atmospheric Mapping Sensor (MAMS). Convective temperatures derived from HIS retrievals helped explain the cloud formation that occurred after the HIS overflights. Crude estimates of Bowen ratio were obtained from HIS data using a mixing-line approach. Values indicated that areas of large sensible heat flux were the areas of first cloud development. These locations were also suggested by GOES visible and infrared imagery. The HIS retrievals indicated that areas of thunderstorm formation were regions of greatest instability.
Local landscape variability and atmospheric temperature and humidity fluctuations were found to be important factors in producing the cumulus clouds on 19 June. HIS soundings were capable of detecting some of this variability. The authors were impressed by HIS's performance on the two study days.