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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-358
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-358
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 25 Nov 2019

Submitted as: research article | 25 Nov 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Consistency and structural uncertainty of multi-mission GPS radio occultation records

Andrea K. Steiner1,2, Florian Ladstädter1,2, Chi O. Ao3, Hans Gleisner4, Shu-Peng Ho5, Doug Hunt6, Torsten Schmidt7, Ulrich Foelsche2,1, Gottfried Kirchengast1,2, Ying-Hwa Kuo6, Kent B. Lauritsen4, Anthony J. Mannucci3, Johannes K. Nielsen4, William Schreiner6, Marc Schwärz1,2, Sergey Sokolovskiy6, Stig Syndergaard4, and Jens Wickert7,8 Andrea K. Steiner et al.
  • 1Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change (WEGC), University of Graz, Graz, Austria
  • 2Institute for Geophysics, Astrophysics, and Meteorology/Institute of Physics, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
  • 3Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
  • 4Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 5NESDIS/STAR/SMCD, Center for Weather and Climate Prediction, College Park, MD, USA
  • 6COSMIC Project Office, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), Boulder, CO, USA
  • 7German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), Potsdam, Germany
  • 8Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Abstract. Atmospheric climate monitoring requires observations of high-quality conforming to the criteria of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). Radio occultation (RO) data based on Global Positioning System (GPS) signals are available since 2001 from several satellite missions with global coverage, high accuracy, and high vertical resolution in the troposphere and lower stratosphere. We assess the consistency and long-term stability of multi-satellite RO observations for use as climate data records. As a measure of long-term stability, we quantify the structural uncertainty of RO data products arising from different processing schemes. We analyze atmospheric variables from bending angle to temperature for four RO missions, CHAMP, Formosat-3/COSMIC, GRACE, and Metop, provided by five data centers. The comparisons are based on profile-to-profile differences, aggregated to monthly means. Structural uncertainty in trends is found lowest from 8 km to 25 km altitude globally for all inspected RO variables and missions. For temperature, it is < 0.05 K per decade in the global mean and < 0.1 K per decade at all latitudes. Above 25 km, the uncertainty increases for CHAMP while data from the other missions are based on advanced receivers and are usable to higher altitudes for climate trend studies: dry temperature to 35 km, refractivity to 40 km, and bending angle to 50 km. Larger differences in RO data at high altitudes and latitudes are mainly due to different implementation choices in the retrievals. The intercomparison helped to further enhance the maturity of the RO record and confirms the climate quality of multi-satellite RO observations towards establishing a GCOS climate data record.

Andrea K. Steiner et al.
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Short summary
High quality observations are critically important for monitoring the Earth’s changing climate. We provide information on the consistency and long-term stability of observations from GPS radio occultation (RO). We assess, for the first time, RO records from multiple RO missions and all major RO data providers. Our results quantify where RO can be used for reliable trend assessment and confirm its climate quality.
High quality observations are critically important for monitoring the Earth’s changing...
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