Articles | Volume 6, issue 5
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 6, 1171–1187, 2013
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 6, 1171–1187, 2013

Research article 07 May 2013

Research article | 07 May 2013

Biases caused by the instrument bandwidth and beam width on simulated brightness temperature measurements from scanning microwave radiometers

V. Meunier1, U. Löhnert2, P. Kollias1, and S. Crewell2 V. Meunier et al.
  • 1Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  • 2Institute for Meteorology and Geophysics, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany

Abstract. More so than the traditional fixed radiometers, the scanning radiometer requires a careful design to ensure high quality measurements. Here the impact of the radiometer characteristics (e.g., antenna beam width and receiver bandwidth) and atmospheric propagation (e.g. curvature of the Earth and vertical gradient of refractive index) on scanning radiometer measurements are presented. A forward radiative transfer model that includes all these effects to represent the instrument measurements is used to estimate the biases. These biases are estimated using differences between the measurement with and without these characteristics for three commonly used frequency bands: K, V and W-band. The receiver channel bandwidth errors are less important in K-band and W-band. Thus, the use of a wider bandwidth to improve detection at low signal-to-noise conditions is acceptable at these frequencies. The biases caused by omitting the antenna beam width in measurement simulations are larger than those caused by omitting the receiver bandwidth, except for V-band where the bandwidth may be more important in the vicinity of absorption peaks. Using simple regression algorithms, the effects of the bandwidth and beam width biases in liquid water path, integrated water vapour, and temperature are also examined. The largest errors in liquid water path and integrated water vapour are associated with the beam width errors.