Refractivity coefficients used in the assimilation of GPS radio occultation measurements



[1] The sensitivity of European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) numerical weather prediction analyses to the empirical refractivity coefficients used to assimilate bending angles derived from GPS radio occultation measurements has been investigated. We have compared the Smith and Weintraub (1953) coefficients with the “best average” values proposed by Rüeger (2002). The Rüeger values produce simulated bending angles in the upper troposphere and stratosphere that are larger by ∼0.115%. This produces a cooling in the troposphere by around ∼−0.1 K, which improves the fit to radiosonde geopotential height measurements in the Northern Hemisphere but degrades the fit in the tropics and Southern Hemisphere. The cooling is caused primarily by Rüeger's increase in the “k1” refractivity coefficient, which accounts for the dry air contribution to the total refractivity. It is confirmed that this cooling can be reduced by introducing nonideal gas effects in the hydrostatic integration of the forward model. However, the Rüeger k1 coefficient should also be adjusted to k1 = 77.643 K hPa−1 if it is used in a forward model that includes nonideal gas effects when evaluating the refractivity from the model state. Furthermore, if the nonideal gas effects are introduced in a consistent way, we find that the Rüeger coefficients plus nonideal gas effects produce very similar results to the Smith and Weintraub values, where nonideal gas effects are neglected.