Articles | Volume 8, issue 1
Research article
29 Jan 2015
Research article |  | 29 Jan 2015

Determining the temporal variability in atmospheric temperature profiles measured using radiosondes and assessment of correction factors for different launch schedules

D. Butterfield and T. Gardiner

Abstract. Radiosondes provide one of the primary sources of upper troposphere and stratosphere temperature data for numerical weather prediction, the assessment of long-term trends in atmospheric temperature, study of atmospheric processes and provide intercomparison data for other temperature sensors, e.g. satellites. When intercomparing different temperature profiles it is important to include the effect of temporal mismatch between the measurements. To help quantify this uncertainty the atmospheric temperature variation through the day needs to be assessed, so that a correction and uncertainty for time difference can be calculated. Temperature data from an intensive radiosonde campaign, at Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, were analysed to calculate the hourly rate of change in temperature at different altitudes and provide recommendations and correction factors for different launch schedules. Using these results, three additional longer term data sets were analysed (Lindenberg 1999 to 2008; Lindenberg 2009 to 2012; and Southern Great Plains 2006 to 2012) to assess the diurnal variability of temperature as a function of altitude, time of day and season of the year. This provides the appropriate estimation of temperature differences for given temporal separation and the uncertainty associated with them. A general observation was that 10 or more repeat measurements would be required to get a standard error of the mean of less than 0.1 K per hour of temporal mismatch.