Articles | Volume 8, issue 3
Research article
04 Mar 2015
Research article |  | 04 Mar 2015

A layer-averaged relative humidity profile retrieval for microwave observations: design and results for the Megha-Tropiques payload

R. G. Sivira, H. Brogniez, C. Mallet, and Y. Oussar

Abstract. A statistical method trained and optimized to retrieve seven-layer relative humidity (RH) profiles is presented and evaluated with measurements from radiosondes. The method makes use of the microwave payload of the Megha-Tropiques platform, namely the SAPHIR sounder and the MADRAS imager. The approach, based on a generalized additive model (GAM), embeds both the physical and statistical characteristics of the inverse problem in the training phase, and no explicit thermodynamical constraint – such as a temperature profile or an integrated water vapor content – is provided to the model at the stage of retrieval. The model is built for cloud-free conditions in order to avoid the cases of scattering of the microwave radiation in the 18.7–183.31 GHz range covered by the payload. Two instrumental configurations are tested: a SAPHIR-MADRAS scheme and a SAPHIR-only scheme to deal with the stop of data acquisition of MADRAS in January 2013 for technical reasons. A comparison to learning machine algorithms (artificial neural network and support-vector machine) shows equivalent performance over a large realistic set, promising low errors (biases < 2.2%RH) and scatters (correlations > 0.8) throughout the troposphere (150–900 hPa). A comparison to radiosonde measurements performed during the international field experiment CINDY/DYNAMO/AMIE (winter 2011–2012) confirms these results for the mid-tropospheric layers (correlations between 0.6 and 0.92), with an expected degradation of the quality of the estimates at the surface and top layers. Finally a rapid insight of the estimated large-scale RH field from Megha-Tropiques is presented and compared to ERA-Interim.