Articles | Volume 7, issue 6
Research article
23 Jun 2014
Research article |  | 23 Jun 2014

Statistical modelling of collocation uncertainty in atmospheric thermodynamic profiles

A. Fassò, R. Ignaccolo, F. Madonna, B. B. Demoz, and M. Franco-Villoria

Abstract. The quantification of measurement uncertainty of atmospheric parameters is a key factor in assessing the uncertainty of global change estimates given by numerical prediction models. One of the critical contributions to the uncertainty budget is related to the collocation mismatch in space and time among observations made at different locations. This is particularly important for vertical atmospheric profiles obtained by radiosondes or lidar.

In this paper we propose a statistical modelling approach capable of explaining the relationship between collocation uncertainty and a set of environmental factors, height and distance between imperfectly collocated trajectories. The new statistical approach is based on the heteroskedastic functional regression (HFR) model which extends the standard functional regression approach and allows a natural definition of uncertainty profiles. Along this line, a five-fold decomposition of the total collocation uncertainty is proposed, giving both a profile budget and an integrated column budget.

HFR is a data-driven approach valid for any atmospheric parameter, which can be assumed smooth. It is illustrated here by means of the collocation uncertainty analysis of relative humidity from two stations involved in the GCOS reference upper-air network (GRUAN). In this case, 85% of the total collocation uncertainty is ascribed to reducible environmental error, 11% to irreducible environmental error, 3.4% to adjustable bias, 0.1% to sampling error and 0.2% to measurement error.