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The Impact of Nonzenith Elevation Angles On Ground-based Infrared Thermodynamic Retrievals


Observing thermodynamic profiles within the planetary boundary layer is essential to understanding and predicting atmospheric phenomena because of the significant exchange of sensible and latent heat between the land and atmosphere within that layer. The Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer (AERI) is a ground-based infrared spectrometer used to obtain the vertical profiles of temperature and water vapor mixing ratio. Most AERIs are only capable of zenith views, although the Marine AERI (M-AERI) has a design that allows it to view various elevation angles. In this study, we quantify the improvement in the information content and accuracy of the retrieved profiles when nonzenith angles are included, as is common with microwave radiometer profilers. The impacts of the additional scan angles are quantified through both a synthetic study and with M-AERI observations from the ARM Cloud Aerosol Precipitation Experiment (ACAPEX) campaign. The simulation study shows that low elevation angles contain more information content for temperature whereas high elevation angles have more information content for water vapor. Outside of very humid environments, the addition of low elevation angles also results in lower root-mean-square errors when compared with high angles for both temperature and water vapor mixing ratio, although this is primarily a result of averaging multiple observations together to reduce instrument noise. Real-world results from the ACAPEX dataset indicate similar results as were found for the simulation study, although not all predicted benefits are realized because of the small sample size and observational uncertainties.

Article / Publication Data
Available Metadata
Early Online Release
September 01, 2022
Fiscal Year
Peer Reviewed
Publication Name
Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Published On
September 16, 2022
Publisher Name
American Meteorological Society
Print Volume
Submitted On
September 24, 2021


Authors who have authored or contributed to this publication.