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Atmosphere sounding by GPS radio occultation: First results from CHAMP

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Abstract

The first radio occultation measurements of the CHAMP (CHAllenging Minisatellite Payload) satellite using Global Positioning System (GPS) signals have been performed on February 11, 2001. By the end of April 2001 more than 3000 occultations were recorded. Globally distributed vertical profiles of dry temperature and specific humidity are derived, of which a set of 438 vertical dry temperature profiles is compared with corresponding global weather analyses. The observed temperature bias is less than ∼1 K above the tropopause and even less than 0.5 K in the altitude interval from 12 to 20 km at latitudes >30°N. About 55% of the compared profiles reached the last kilometer above the Earth's surface. In spite of the activated anti-spoofing mode of the GPS system the state-of-the-art GPS flight receiver aboard CHAMP combined with favorable antenna characteristics allows for atmospheric sounding with high accuracy and vertical resolution.

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