Tropical cyclone cloud-top height and vertical temperature structure detection using GPS radio occultation measurements

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Abstract

[1] The accurate determination of tropical cyclone (TC) cloud-top height and its vertical thermal structure using the GPS radio occultation (RO) technique is demonstrated in this study. Cloud-top heights are determined by using the bending angle anomaly and the temperature anomaly profiles during the TC events, and the results are compared to near-coincident cloud-top heights determined by Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) measurements. Based on 34 closely located RO-CALIOP pairs during 2006 to 2009, TC cloud-top heights from RO are highly correlated with CALIOP (r = 0.84), with a mean RO-CALIOP cloud-top height difference of approximately 500 m and a root-mean-square difference near 1 km. GPS RO data also allow analysis of the TC thermal structure, showing warm anomalies in the middle troposphere and cold anomalies in the upper levels, with a strong inversion near cloud top. We further investigate the thermal structure of the TCs from collocated radiosondes, and identify 246 RO-radiosonde pairs from 2001 to 2009. Radiosonde data confirm the thermal structure identified in GPS RO, with a strong inversion near the inferred cloud top. The mean difference between RO-derived inversion heights and those from radiosonde temperature profiles is approximately 500 m. Results show that, while cloud-top height detected from nadir-viewing satellites can be easily biased by a few kilometers, the biases of RO-derived cloud-top height are within ~500 m.

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