Tuesday, 11 February 2003: 11:30 AM
A Reference Radiosonde System for Improving Water Vapor Measurement in IHOP_2002
Global radiosonde data are required by meteorological analysis centers for initializing numerical prediction models for weather forecasting, and represent an increasingly valuable resource for studies of climate change and in the development, calibration and validation of retrieval techniques for atmospheric temperature and water vapor profiles from satellite. Unfortunately, the usefulness of radiosonde data is limited by sensor accuracy, by data reporting practices, and by the fact that sonde and sensor types vary by location and with time. Numerous studies and reports have called for a reference sonde to serve as a transfer standard to compare and connect data from past, present and future sonde systems. We are working on developing a reference radiosonde system at the Atmospheric Technology Division (ATD) at NCAR. The reference radiosonde system will carry the best sensors, have a flexible infrastructure to host multiple and different user-provided sensors and will be recoverable to reduce costs. The first version of the reference radiosonde system was deployed in the Oklahoma panhandle and Dodge City, KS (NWS radiosonde site) during the International H2O Project (IHOP_2002). A total of sixteen reference sondes were launched during IHOP either with Vaisala RS80 or Sippican (VIZ) radiosondes. The humidity data from the reference humidity sensor (Snow White, SW) are compared with Vaisala and VIZ data. The comparisons show that (a) VIZ carbon hygristor fails to respond to humidity changes in the upper troposphere, (b) the carbon hygristor inside the reference sonde has slower response than that inside NWS VIZ sonde, (c) Vaisala RS80-H agrees with SW very well in the middle and lower troposphere, and (d) SW can detect cirrus clouds near the tropopause and possibly estimate their ice water content (IWC). The climate impacts of these results are also discussed.