Improved Daytime Column Integrated Precipitable Water Vapor from Vaisala Radiosonde Humidity Sensors

Type: Journal Article

Venue: Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology


Cady-Pereira, K.E., M.W. Shephard, D.D. Turner, E.J. Mlawer, and S.A. Clough, Improved Daytime Column Integrated Precipitable Water Vapor from Vaisala Radiosonde Humidity Sensors, J. Atmos. Ocean. Tech., 25, 873-883, 2008.

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Accurate water vapor profiles from radiosondes are essential for long-term climate prediction, weather prediction, validation of remote sensing retrievals, and other applications. The Vaisala RS80, RS90, and RS92 radiosondes are among the more commonly deployed radiosondes in the world. However, numerous investigators have shown that the daytime water vapor profiles measured by these instruments present a significant dry bias due to the solar heating of the humidity sensor. This bias in the column-integrated precipitable water vapor (PWV), along with variability due to calibration, can be removed by scaling the humidity profile to agree with the PWV retrieved from a microwave radiometer (MWR), as has been demonstrated by several previous studies. Infrared radiative closure analyses have shown that the MWR PWV does not present daytime versus nighttime differences; thus, scaling by the MWR is a possible approach for removing the daytime dry bias. However, MWR measurements are not routinely available at all radiosonde launch sites. Starting from a long-term series of sonde and MWR PWV measurements from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Southern Great Plains (SGP) site, the authors have developed a simple correction to the column-integrated sonde PWV, derived from an analysis of the ratio of the MWR and sonde measurements; this correction is a function of the atmospheric transmittance as determined by the solar zenith angle, and it effectively removes the daytime dry bias at all solar zenith angles. The correction was validated by successfully applying it to an independent dataset from the ARM tropical western Pacific (TWP) site.