Journal article

A multi-instrument comparison of integrated water vapour measurements at a high latitude site

Buehler S, Östman S, Melsheimer C, Holl G, Eliasson S, John V, Blumenstock T, Hase F, Elgered G, Raffalski U, Nasuno T, Satoh M, Milz M, Mendrok J ...see all

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, vol. 12, issue 22 (2012) pp. 10925-10943

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We compare measurements of integrated water vapour (IWV) over a subarctic
site (Kiruna, Northern Sweden) from five different sensors and retrieval
methods: Radiosondes, Global Positioning System (GPS), ground-based
Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer, ground-based microwave
radiometer, and satellite-based microwave radiometer (AMSU-B). Additionally,
we compare also to ERA-Interim model reanalysis data. GPS-based IWV
data have the highest temporal coverage and resolution and are chosen
as reference data set. All datasets agree reasonably well, but the
ground-based microwave instrument only if the data are cloud-filtered.
We also address two issues that are general for such intercomparison
studies, the impact of different lower altitude limits for the IWV
integration, and the impact of representativeness error. We develop
methods for correcting for the former, and estimating the random
error contribution of the latter. A literature survey reveals that
reported systematic differences between different techniques are
study-dependent and show no overall consistent pattern. Further improving
the absolute accuracy of IWV measurements and providing climate-quality
time series therefore remain challenging problems.

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  • S. A. Buehler

  • S. Östman

  • C. Melsheimer

  • G. Holl

  • S. Eliasson

  • V. O. John

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