Articles | Volume 3, issue 6
Research article
22 Nov 2010
Research article |  | 22 Nov 2010

H2O and δD profiles remotely-sensed from ground in different spectral infrared regions

M. Schneider, G. C. Toon, J.-F. Blavier, F. Hase, and T. Leblanc

Abstract. We present ground-based FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared) water vapour analyses performed in four different spectral regions: 790–880, 1090–1330, 2650–3180, and 4560–4710 cm−1. All four regions allow the retrieval of lower, middle, and upper tropospheric water vapour amounts with a vertical resolution of about 3, 6, and 10 km, respectively. In addition the analyses at 1090–1330 and 2650–3180 cm−1 allow the retrieval of lower and middle/upper tropospheric δD values with vertical resolutions of 3 and 10 km, respectively. A theoretical and empirical error assessment – taking coincident Vaisala RS92 radiosonde measurements as a reference – suggests that the H2O data retrieved at high wavenumbers are slightly more precise than those retrieved at low wavenumbers. We deduce an H2O profile precision and accuracy of generally better than 20% except for the low wavenumber retrieval at 790–880 cm−1, where the assessed upper precision limit of middle/upper tropospheric H2O is 35%. The scatter between the H2O profiles produced by the four different retrievals is generally below 20% and the bias below 10%, except for the boundary layer, where it can reach 24%. These values well confirm the theoretical and empirical error assessment and are rather small compared to the huge tropospheric H2O variability of about one order of magnitude thereby demonstrating the large consistency between the different H2O profile retrievals. By comparing the two δD profile versions we deduce a precision of about 8 and 17‰ for the lower and middle/upper troposphere, respectively. However, at the same time we observe a systematic difference between the two retrievals of up to 40‰ in the middle/upper troposphere which is a large value compared to the typical tropospheric δD variability of only 80‰.