Evaluation of wind profiles from the NERC MST radar, Aberystwyth, UK
Abstract. This study quantifies the uncertainties in winds measured by the Aberystwyth Mesosphere–Stratosphere–Troposphere (MST) radar (52.4° N, 4.0° W), before and after its renovation in March 2011. A total of 127 radiosondes provide an independent measure of winds. Differences between radiosonde and radar-measured horizontal winds are correlated with long-term averages of vertical velocities, suggesting an influence from local mountain waves. These local influences are an important consideration when using radar winds as a measure of regional conditions, particularly for numerical weather prediction. For those applications, local effects represent a source of sampling error additional to the inherent uncertainties in the measurements themselves. The radar renovation improved the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of measurements, with a corresponding improvement in altitude coverage. It also corrected an underestimate of horizontal wind speeds attributed to beam formation problems, due to pre-renovation component failure. The root mean square error (RMSE) in radar-measured horizontal wind components, averaged over half an hour, increases with wind speed and altitude, and is 0.8–2.5 m s−1 (6–12% of wind speed) for post-renovation winds. Pre-renovation values are typically 0.1 m s−1 larger. The RMSE in radial velocities is <0.04 m s−1. Eight weeks of special radar operation are used to investigate the effects of echo power aspect sensitivity. Corrections for echo power aspect sensitivity remove an underestimate of horizontal wind speeds; however aspect sensitivity is azimuthally anisotropic at the scale of routine observations (≈1 h). This anisotropy introduces random error into wind profiles. For winds averaged over half an hour, the RMSE is around 3.5% above 8 km, but as large as 4.5% in the mid-troposphere.