Articles | Volume 5, issue 5
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 5, 1015–1030, 2012
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 5, 1015–1030, 2012

Research article 10 May 2012

Research article | 10 May 2012

On the accuracy of integrated water vapor observations and the potential for mitigating electromagnetic path delay error in InSAR

D. Cimini1,2, N. Pierdicca3, E. Pichelli2, R. Ferretti2, V. Mattioli4, S. Bonafoni4, M. Montopoli2,*, and D. Perissin5 D. Cimini et al.
  • 1IMAA-CNR, Potenza, Italy
  • 2CETEMPS, University of L'Aquila, Italy
  • 3DIET, University of Rome "La Sapienza", Italy
  • 4DIEI, University of Perugia, Italy
  • 5ISEIS, Chinese University of Hong Kong, NT, Shatin, Hong Kong
  • *now at: University of Cambrige, UK

Abstract. A field campaign was carried out in the framework of the Mitigation of Electromagnetic Transmission errors induced by Atmospheric Water Vapour Effects (METAWAVE) project sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA) to investigate the accuracy of currently available sources of atmospheric columnar integrated water vapor measurements. The METAWAVE campaign took place in Rome, Italy, for the 2-week period from 19 September to 4 October 2008. The collected dataset includes observations from ground-based microwave radiometers and Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, from meteorological numerical model analysis and predictions, from balloon-borne in-situ radiosoundings, as well as from spaceborne infrared radiometers. These different sources of integrated water vapor (IWV) observations have been analyzed and compared to quantify the accuracy and investigate the potential for mitigating IWV-related electromagnetic path delay errors in Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) imaging. The results, which include a triple collocation analysis accounting for errors inherently present in every IWV measurements, are valid not only to InSAR but also to any other application involving water vapor sensing. The present analysis concludes that the requirements for mitigating the effects of turbulent water vapor component into InSAR are significantly higher than the accuracy of the instruments analyzed here. Nonetheless, information on the IWV vertical stratification from satellite observations, numerical models, and GPS receivers may provide valuable aid to suppress the long spatial wavelength (>20 km) component of the atmospheric delay, and thus significantly improve the performances of InSAR phase unwrapping techniques.