GPS radio occultation for climate monitoring and change detection

Authors

  • A. K. Steiner,

    1. Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change and Institute for Geophysics, Astrophysics, and Meteorology/Institute of Physics, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
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  • B. C. Lackner,

    1. Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change and Institute for Geophysics, Astrophysics, and Meteorology/Institute of Physics, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
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  • F. Ladstädter,

    1. Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change and Institute for Geophysics, Astrophysics, and Meteorology/Institute of Physics, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
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  • B. Scherllin-Pirscher,

    1. Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change and Institute for Geophysics, Astrophysics, and Meteorology/Institute of Physics, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
    2. Advanced Study Program, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
    3. COSMIC Project Office, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
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  • U. Foelsche,

    1. Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change and Institute for Geophysics, Astrophysics, and Meteorology/Institute of Physics, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
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  • G. Kirchengast

    1. Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change and Institute for Geophysics, Astrophysics, and Meteorology/Institute of Physics, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
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Abstract

[1] Observation of the atmospheric climate and detection of changes require high quality data. Radio Occultation (RO) using Global Positioning System (GPS) signals is based on time measurements with precise atomic clocks. It provides a long-term stable and consistent data record with global coverage and favorable error characteristics. Highest quality and vertical resolution is given in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS). RO data exist from the GPS/Met mission within 1995–1997, and continuous observations are available since 2001. We give a review on studies using RO data for climate monitoring and change detection in the UTLS and discuss RO characteristics and error estimates, climate change indicators, trend detection, and comparison to conventional upper-air data. These studies showed that RO parameters cover the whole UTLS with useful indicators of climate change, being most robust in the tropics. Refractivity is most sensitive in the lower stratosphere (LS) and tropopause region, pressure/geopotential height and temperature over the UTLS region. An emerging climate change signal in the RO record can be detected for geopotential height of pressure levels and for temperature, reflecting warming of the troposphere and cooling of the LS. The results are in agreement with trends in radiosonde and ERA-Interim records. Climate model trends basically agree as well but they show less warming/cooling contrast across the tropical tropopause. (Advanced) Microwave Sounding Unit LS bulk temperature anomalies show significant differences to RO. Overall, the quality of RO climate records is suitable to fulfill the requirements of a global climate change monitoring system.

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