Differential absorption radar techniques: water vapor retrievals
- Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA
Abstract. Two radar pulses sent at different frequencies near the 183 GHz water vapor line can be used to determine total column water vapor and water vapor profiles (within clouds or precipitation) exploiting the differential absorption on and off the line. We assess these water vapor measurements by applying a radar instrument simulator to CloudSat pixels and then running end-to-end retrieval simulations. These end-to-end retrievals enable us to fully characterize not only the expected precision but also their potential biases, allowing us to select radar tones that maximize the water vapor signal minimizing potential errors due to spectral variations in the target extinction properties. A hypothetical CloudSat-like instrument with 500 m by ∼ 1 km vertical and horizontal resolution and a minimum detectable signal and radar precision of −30 and 0.16 dBZ, respectively, can estimate total column water vapor with an expected precision of around 0.03 cm, with potential biases smaller than 0.26 cm most of the time, even under rainy conditions. The expected precision for water vapor profiles was found to be around 89 % on average, with potential biases smaller than 77 % most of the time when the profile is being retrieved close to surface but smaller than 38 % above 3 km. By using either horizontal or vertical averaging, the precision will improve vastly, with the measurements still retaining a considerably high vertical and/or horizontal resolution.