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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-2019-472
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-472
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 10 Feb 2020

Submitted as: research article | 10 Feb 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Use of automatic radiosonde launchers to measure temperature and humidity profiles from the GRUAN perspective

Fabio Madonna1, Rigel Kivi2, Jean-Charles Dupont3, Bruce Ingleby4, Masatomo Fujiwara5, Gonzague Romanens6, Miguel Hernandez7, Xavier Calbet7, Marco Rosoldi1, Aldo Giunta1, Tomi Karppinen2, Masami Iwabuchi8, Shunsuke Hoshino9, Christoph von Rohden10, and Peter William Thorne11 Fabio Madonna et al.
  • 1Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche - Istituto di Metodologie per l'Analisi Ambientale (CNR-IMAA), Tito Scalo (Potenza), Italy
  • 2Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 3Institut Pierre et Simon Laplace (IPSL), Paris, France
  • 4European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECWMF), Reading, UK
  • 5Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
  • 6MeteoSwiss, Payerne, Switzerland
  • 7Agencia Estatal de Meteorología, Madrid, Spain
  • 8Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Tokyo, Japan
  • 9Aerological Observatory, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan
  • 10Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD), GRUAN Lead Centre, Lindenberg, Germany
  • 11Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units, Dept. of Geography, Maynooth University, Maynooth, Ireland

Abstract. In the last two decades, technological progress has not only seen improvements to the quality of atmospheric upper-air observations, but also provided the opportunity to design and implement automated systems able to replace measurement procedures typically performed manually. Radiosoundings, which remain one of the primary data sources for weather and climate applications, are still largely performed around the world manually, although increasingly fully automated upper-air observations are used, from urban areas to the remotest locations, which minimise operating costs and challenges in performing radiosounding launches. This analysis presents a first step to demonstrating the reliability of the Automatic Radiosonde Launchers (ARLs) provided by Vaisala, Meteomodem and Meisei. The metadata and datasets collected by a few existing ARLs operated by GRUAN certified or candidate sites (Sondakyla, Payerne, Trappes, Potenza) have been investigated and a comparative analysis of the technical performance (i.e. manual vs ARL) is reported. The performance of ARLs is evaluated as being similar or superior to those achieved with the traditional manual launches in terms of percentage of successful launches, balloon burst and ascent speed. For both temperature and relative humidity, the ground check comparisons showed a negative bias of a few tenths of a degree and % RH, respectively. Two datasets of parallel soundings between manual and ARL-based measurements, using identical sonde models, provided by Sodankylä and Faa’a stations showed mean differences between the ARL and manual launches smaller than ±0.2 K up to 10 hPa for the temperature profiles. For relative humidity, differences were smaller than 1 % RH for the Sodankylä dataset up to 300 hPa, while they were smaller than 0.7 % RH for Faa’a station. Finally, the O-B mean and rms statistics for German RS92 and RS41 stations which operate a mix of manual and ARL launch protocols, calculated using the ECMWF forecast model, are very similar, although RS41 shows larger rms(O-B) differences for ARL stations, in particular for temperature and wind. A discussion on the potential next steps proposed by GRUAN community and other parties is provided, with the aim to lay the basis for the elaboration of a strategy to fully demonstrate the value of ARLs and guarantee that the provided products are traceable and suitable for the creation of GRUAN data products.

Fabio Madonna et al.

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Latest update: 17 Feb 2020
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Short summary
Radiosondes are one of the primary sources of upper-air data for weather and climate monitoring. In the last two decades, technological progress made available Automated Radiosonde Launchers (ARL), able to replace measurement typically performed manually. This work presents a comparative analysis of the technical performance of the ARLs nowadays available on the market and contribute to define a strategy to achieve the full traceability of the ARL products.
Radiosondes are one of the primary sources of upper-air data for weather and climate monitoring....
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