Articles | Volume 4, issue 10
Research article
05 Oct 2011
Research article |  | 05 Oct 2011

An investigation of atmospheric temperature profiles in the Australian region using collocated GPS radio occultation and radiosonde data

K. Zhang, E. Fu, D. Silcock, Y. Wang, and Y. Kuleshov

Abstract. GPS radio occultation (RO) has been recognised as an alternative atmospheric upper air observation technique due to its distinct features and technological merits. The CHAllenging Minisatellite Payload (CHAMP) RO satellite and FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC (Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate) RO constellation together have provided about ten years of high quality global coverage RO atmospheric profiles. This technique is best used for meteorological studies in the difficult-to-access areas such as deserts and oceans. To better understand and use RO data, effective quality assessment using independent radiosonde data and its associated collocation criteria used in tempo-spatial domain are important. This study compares GPS RO retrieved temperature profiles from both CHAMP (between May 2001 and October 2008) and FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC (between July 2006 and December 2009) with radiosonde data from 38 Australian radiosonde stations. The overall results show a good agreement between the two data sets. Different collocation criteria within 3 h and 300 km between the profile pairs have been applied and the impact of these different collocation criteria on the evaluation results is found statistically insignificantly. The CHAMP and FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC temperature profiles have been evaluated at 16 different pressure levels and the differences between GPS RO and radiosonde at different levels of the atmosphere have been studied. The result shows that the mean temperature difference between radiosonde and CHAMP is 0.39 °C (with a standard deviation of 1.20 °C) and the one between radiosonde and FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC is 0.37 °C (with a standard deviation of 1.24 °C). Different collocation criteria have been applied and insignificant differences were identified amongst the results.