Articles | Volume 4, issue 10
Research article
20 Oct 2011
Research article |  | 20 Oct 2011

Analysis of GPS radio occultation data from the FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC and Metop/GRAS missions at CDAAC

W. Schreiner, S. Sokolovskiy, D. Hunt, C. Rocken, and Y.-H. Kuo

Abstract. This study investigates the noise level and mission-to-mission stability of Global Positioning System (GPS) radio occultation (RO) neutral atmospheric bending angle data at the UCAR COSMIC Data Analysis and Archive Center (CDAAC). Data are used from two independently developed RO instruments currently flying in orbit on the FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC (F3C) and Metop/GRAS (GNSS Receiver for Atmospheric Sounding) missions. The F3C 50 Hz RO data are post-processed with a single-difference excess atmospheric phase algorithm, and the Metop/GRAS 50 Hz closed loop and raw sampling (down-sampled from 1000 Hz to 50 Hz) data are processed with a zero-difference algorithm. The standard deviations of the F3C and Metop/GRAS bending angles from climatology between 60 and 80 km altitude from June–December 2009 are approximately 1.78 and 1.13 μrad, respectively. The F3C standard deviation reduces significantly to 1.44 μrad when single-difference processing uses GPS satellites on the same side of the spacecraft. The higher noise level for F3C bending angles can be explained by additional noise from the reference link phase data that are required with single-difference processing. The F3C and Metop/GRAS mean bending angles differences relative to climatology during the same six month period are statistically significant and have values of −0.05 and −0.02 μrad, respectively. A comparison of ~13 500 collocated F3C and Metop/GRAS bending angle profiles over this six month period shows a similar mean difference of ~0.02 ± 0.02 μrad between 30 and 60 km impact heights that is marginally significant. The observed mean difference between the F3C and Metop/GRAS bending angles of ~0.02–0.03 μrad is quite small and illustrates the high degree of re-produceability and mission independence of the GPS RO data at high altitudes. Collocated bending angles between two F3C satellites from early in the mission differ on average by up to 0.5% near the surface due to systematically lower signal-to-noise ratio for one of the satellites. Results from F3C and Metop/GRAS differences in the lower troposphere suggest the Metop/GRAS bending angles are negatively biased compared to F3C with a maximum of several percents near the surface in tropical regions. This bias is related to different tracking depths (deeper in F3C) and data gaps in Metop/GRAS which make it impossible to process the data from both missions in exactly the same way.