Atmospheric River Moisture Sampled by GPS Radio Occultation to Improve Rainfall Forecasts in California

GISMOS (the GNSS Instrument System for Multistatic and Occultation Sensing) has been added to this year’s suite of instruments to fly in Calwater2015 from January 14 through February 23, 2015, thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation. Calwater2015 is a NOAA mission targeting the atmospheric rivers that bring critically needed rainfall to California. The instrument is seen here being loaded onto the G-IV aircraft (fig 1.)

The instrument uses simple GPS signals from setting satellites recorded through the GPS antenna seen here on the second window blank on the side of the G-IV aircraft, to make measurements of the atmospheric moisture profiles (fig 2). The system was developed by Jennifer Haase at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (fig 2), and James Garrison at Purdue University with funding from the National Science Foundation.

Through a NSF-NOAA collaboration, GISMOS has been deployed on this 6 week NOAA mission and so far it has recorded good data from the recent heavy rainfall and wind event Feb 4-8 in Northern California. Data is to be analyzed after the missions are completed and will be made available for research studies by Scripps and NOAA scientists. Three graduate students are participating in data collection and research flights: Jeffrey Sussman (SIO), Weixing Zhang (SIO and Wuhan University), and Brian Murphy (Purdue University). Calwater2 offers an exceptional opportunity for the graduate students to get hands on experience in airborne research and work with the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center team from Tampa, Florida (hurricane hunters).

GISMOS (the GNSS Instrument System for Multistatic and Occultation Sensing) has been added to this year’s suite of instruments to fly in Calwater2015 from January 14 through February 23, 2015, thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation. Calwater2015 is a NOAA mission targeting the atmospheric rivers that bring critically needed rainfall to California.