Articles | Volume 7, issue 4
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 7, 1133–1150, 2014
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 7, 1133–1150, 2014

Research article 30 Apr 2014

Research article | 30 Apr 2014

Atmospheric composition and thermodynamic retrievals from the ARIES airborne FTS system – Part 1: Technical aspects and simulated capability

S. M. Illingworth1, G. Allen1, S. Newman2, A. Vance2, F. Marenco2, R. C. Harlow2, J. Taylor2, D. P. Moore3, and J. J. Remedios3 S. M. Illingworth et al.
  • 1Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK
  • 2Meteorological Office, Fitzroy Road, Exeter, EX1 3PB, UK
  • 3Earth Observation Science, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK

Abstract. In this study we present an assessment of the retrieval capability of the Airborne Research Interferometer Evaluation System (ARIES): an airborne remote-sensing Fourier transform spectrometer (FTS) operated on the UK Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurement (FAAM) aircraft. Simulated maximum a posteriori retrievals of partial column trace gas concentrations, and thermodynamic vertical profiles throughout the troposphere and planetary boundary layer have been performed here for simulated infrared spectra representative of the ARIES system operating in the nadir-viewing geometry. We also describe the operational and technical aspects of the pre-processing necessary for routine retrieval from the FAAM platform and the selection and construction of a priori information. As exemplars of the capability of the ARIES retrieval system, simulated retrievals of temperature, water vapour (H2O), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3), and methane (CH4), and their corresponding sources of error and potential vertical sensitivity, are discussed for ARIES scenes across typical global environments.

The maximum Degrees of Freedom for Signal (DOFS) for the retrievals, assuming a flight altitude of 7 km, were 3.99, 2.97, 0.85, 0.96, and 1.45 for temperature, H2O, CO, O3, and CH4, respectively, for the a priori constraints specified. Retrievals of temperature display significant vertical sensitivity (DOFS in the range 2.6 to 4.0 across the altitude range) as well as excellent simulated accuracy, with the vertical sensitivity for H2O also extending to lower altitudes (DOFS ranging from 1.6 to 3.0). It was found that the maximum sensitivity for CO, O3, and CH4 was approximately 1–2 km below the simulated altitudes in all scenarios.

Comparisons of retrieved and simulated-truth partial atmospheric columns are used to assess the capability of the ARIES measurement system. Maximum mean biases (and bias standard deviations) in partial columns (i.e. below aircraft total columns) were found to be +0.06 (±0.02 at 1σ)%, +3.95 (±3.11)%, +3.74 (±2.97)%, −8.26 (±4.64)%, and +3.01 (±2.61)% for temperature, H2O, CO, O3, and CH4, respectively, illustrating that the retrieval system performs well compared to an optimal scheme. The maximum total a posteriori retrieval errors across the partial columns were also calculated, and were found to be 0.20, 22.57, 18.22, 17.61, and 16.42% for temperature, H2O, CO, O3, and CH4, respectively.