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Improving Thermodynamic Profile Retrievals From Microwave Radiometers By Including Radio Acoustic Sounding System (rass) Observations


Thermodynamic profiles are often retrieved from the multi-wavelength brightness temperature observations made by microwave radiometers (MWRs) using regression methods (linear, quadratic approaches), artificial intelligence (neural networks), or physical iterative methods. Regression and neural network methods are tuned to mean conditions derived from a climatological dataset of thermodynamic profiles collected nearby. In contrast, physical iterative retrievals use a radiative transfer model starting from a climatologically reasonable profile of temperature and water vapor, with the model running iteratively until the derived brightness temperatures match those observed by the MWR within a specified uncertainty. In this study, a physical iterative approach is used to retrieve temperature and humidity profiles from data collected during XPIA (eXperimental Planetary boundary layer Instrument Assessment), a field campaign held from March to May 2015 at NOAA's Boulder Atmospheric Observatory (BAO) facility. During the campaign, several passive and active remote sensing instruments as well as in situ platforms were deployed and evaluated to determine their suitability for the verification and validation of meteorological processes. Among the deployed remote sensing instruments were a multi-channel MWR as well as two radio acoustic sounding systems (RASSs) associated with 915 and 449 MHz wind profiling radars. In this study the physical iterative approach is tested with different observational inputs: first using data from surface sensors and the MWR in different configurations and then including data from the RASS in the retrieval with the MWR data. These temperature retrievals are assessed against co-located radiosonde profiles. Results show that the combination of the MWR and RASS observations in the retrieval allows for a more accurate characterization of low-level temperature inversions and that these retrieved temperature profiles match the radiosonde observations better than the temperature profiles retrieved from only the MWR in the layer between the surface and 3 km above ground level (a.g.l.). Specifically, in this layer of the atmosphere, both root mean square errors and standard deviations of the difference between radiosonde and retrievals that combine MWR and RASS are improved by mostly 10 %–20 % compared to the configuration that does not include RASS observations. Pearson correlation coefficients are also improved. A comparison of the temperature physical retrievals to the manufacturer-provided neural network retrievals is provided in Appendix A.

Article / Publication Data
Available Metadata
Fiscal Year
Peer Reviewed
Publication Name
Atmospheric Measurement Techniques
Published On
January 31, 2022
Publisher Name
European Geosciences Union
Print Volume
Submitted On
January 12, 2022


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