Articles | Volume 6, issue 10
Research article
29 Oct 2013
Research article |  | 29 Oct 2013

A model-based approach to adjust microwave observations for operational applications: results of a campaign at Munich Airport in winter 2011/2012

J. Güldner

Abstract. In the frame of the project "LuFo iPort VIS" which focuses on the implementation of a site-specific visibility forecast, a field campaign was organised to offer detailed information to a numerical fog model. As part of additional observing activities, a 22-channel microwave radiometer profiler (MWRP) was operating at the Munich Airport site in Germany from October 2011 to February 2012 in order to provide vertical temperature and humidity profiles as well as cloud liquid water information. Independently from the model-related aims of the campaign, the MWRP observations were used to study their capabilities to work in operational meteorological networks. Over the past decade a growing quantity of MWRP has been introduced and a user community (MWRnet) was established to encourage activities directed at the set up of an operational network. On that account, the comparability of observations from different network sites plays a fundamental role for any applications in climatology and numerical weather forecast.

In practice, however, systematic temperature and humidity differences (bias) between MWRP retrievals and co-located radiosonde profiles were observed and reported by several authors. This bias can be caused by instrumental offsets and by the absorption model used in the retrieval algorithms as well as by applying a non-representative training data set. At the Lindenberg observatory, besides a neural network provided by the manufacturer, a measurement-based regression method was developed to reduce the bias. These regression operators are calculated on the basis of coincident radiosonde observations and MWRP brightness temperature (TB) measurements. However, MWRP applications in a network require comparable results at just any site, even if no radiosondes are available.

The motivation of this work is directed to a verification of the suitability of the operational local forecast model COSMO-EU of the Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD) for the calculation of model-based regression operators in order to provide unbiased vertical profiles during the campaign at Munich Airport. The results of this algorithm and the retrievals of a neural network, specially developed for the site, are compared with radiosondes from Oberschleißheim located about 10 km apart from the MWRP site. Outstanding deviations for the lowest levels between 50 and 100 m are discussed. Analogously to the airport experiment, a model-based regression operator was calculated for Lindenberg and compared with both radiosondes and operational results of observation-based methods.

The bias of the retrievals could be considerably reduced and the accuracy, which has been assessed for the airport site, is quite similar to those of the operational radiometer site at Lindenberg above 1 km height. Additional investigations are made to determine the length of the training period necessary for generating best estimates. Thereby three months have proven to be adequate. The results of the study show that on the basis of numerical weather prediction (NWP) model data, available everywhere at any time, the model-based regression method is capable of providing comparable results at a multitude of sites. Furthermore, the approach offers auspicious conditions for automation and continuous updating.