Assessment of GPS radiosonde descent data
Abstract. Radiosondes are widely used to obtain basic meteorological parameters such as pressure (P), temperature (T), relative humidity (RH) and horizontal winds during the balloon ascent up to the altitude of balloon burst, usually ~ 32–35 km. Data from the radiosondes released from Gadanki (13.5° N, 79.2° E), a tropical station in India, have been collected during the ascent and during the descent as well without attaching any parachute or its equivalent since the year 2008. In the present study an attempt has been made to characterize the radiosonde descent data with the main objective of exploring its usefulness and reliability for scientific purposes. We compared the data obtained during ascent and descent phases of the same sounding. The mean differences in T, RH and horizontal winds between ascent and descent data are found to be small and are sometimes even within the uncertainty of the measurements and/or expected diurnal variation itself. The very good consistency observed between the ascent and the descent data shows that one more profile of the meteorological parameters can be constructed within 3 h of time of balloon launch practically at no additional cost. Further checks are done by utilizing the 3-hourly radiosonde observations collected during the Tropical Tropopause Dynamics campaigns conducted at Gadanki. In the process of checking the consistency between the radiosonde ascent and descent data, several new findings are arrived at and are reported in this study. In general, it has taken more than half an hour for the balloon to reach the ground from the burst altitude. It is also observed that the fall velocity is close to 10 m s−1 near the surface. Finally, it is suggested to record the observations also when the balloon is descending as this information is useful for scientific purposes.