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Xie, FQ, Adhikari L, Haase JS, Murphy B, Wang KN, Garrison JL.  2018.  Sensitivity of airborne radio occultation to tropospheric properties over ocean and land. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques. 11:763-780.   10.5194/amt-11-763-2018   AbstractWebsite

Airborne radio occultation (ARO) measurements collected during a ferry flight at the end of the PREDepression Investigation of Cloud-systems in the Tropics (PREDICT) field campaign from the Virgin Islands to Colorado are analyzed. The large contrast in atmospheric conditions along the flight path from the warm and moist Caribbean Sea to the much drier and cooler continental conditions provides a unique opportunity to address the sensitivity of ARO measurements to the tropospheric temperature and moisture changes. This long flight at nearly constant altitude (similar to 13 km) provided an optimal configuration for simultaneous high-quality ARO measurements from two high-gain side-looking antennas, as well as one relatively lower gain zenith (top) antenna. The omnidirectional top antenna has the advantage of tracking robustly more occulting satellites in all direction as compared to the limited-azimuth tracking of the side-looking antennas. Two well-adapted radioholographic bending angle retrieval methods, full-spectrum inversion (FSI) and phase matching (PM), were compared with the standard geometric-optics (GO) retrieval method. Comparison of the ARO retrievals from the top antenna with the near-coincident ECMWF reanalysis-interim (ERAI) profiles shows only a small root-mean-square (RMS) refractivity difference of similar to 0.3% in the drier upper troposphere from similar to 5 to similar to 11.5 km over both land and ocean. Both the FSI and PM methods improve the ARO retrievals in the moist lower troposphere and reduce the negative bias found in the GO retrieval due to atmospheric multipath. In the lowest layer of the troposphere, the ARO refractivity derived using FSI shows a negative bias of about -2%. The increase of the refractivity bias occurs below 5 km over the ocean and below 3.5 km over land, corresponding to the approximate altitude of large vertical moisture gradients above the ocean and land surface, respectively. In comparisons to radiosondes, the FSI ARO soundings capture well the height of layers with sharp refractivity gradients but display a negative refractivity bias inside the boundary layer. The unique opportunity to make simultaneous independent recordings of occultation events from multiple antennas establishes that high-precision ARO measurements can be achieved corresponding to an RMS difference better than 0.2% in refractivity (or similar to 0.4 K). The surprisingly good quality of recordings from a very simple zenith antenna increases the feasibility of developing an operational tropospheric sounding system onboard commercial aircraft in the future, which could provide a large number of data for direct assimilation in numerical weather prediction models.

Wang, KN, Garrison JL, Haase JS, Murphy BJ.  2017.  Improvements to GPS Airborne Radio Occultation in the Lower Troposphere Through Implementation of the Phase Matching Method. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 122:10215-10230.   10.1002/2017jd026568   AbstractWebsite

Airborne radio occultation (ARO) is a remote sensing technique for atmospheric sounding using Global Positioning System signals received by an airborne instrument. The atmospheric refractivity profile, which depends on pressure, temperature, and water vapor, can be retrieved by measuring the signal delay due to the refractive medium through which the signal traverses. The ARO system was developed to make repeated observations within an individual meteorological event such as a tropical storm, regardless of the presence of clouds and precipitation, and complements existing observation techniques such as dropsondes and satellite remote sensing. RO systems can suffer multipath ray propagation in the lower troposphere if there are strong refractivity gradients, for example, due to a highly variable moisture distribution or a sharp boundary layer, interfering with continuous carrier phase tracking as well as complicating retrievals. The phase matching method has now been adapted for ARO and is shown to reduce negative biases in the refractivity retrieval by providing robust retrievals of bending angle in the presence of multipath. The retrieval results are presented for a flight campaign in September 2010 for Hurricane Karl in the Caribbean Sea. The accuracy is assessed through comparison with the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts Interim Reanalysis. The fractional difference in refractivity can be maintained at a standard deviation of 2% from flight level down to a height of 2km. The phase matching method decreases the negative refractivity bias by as much as 4% over the classical geometrical optics retrieval method.

Adhikari, L, Xie FQ, Haase JS.  2016.  Application of the full spectrum inversion algorithm to simulated airborne GPS radio occultation signals. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques. 9:5077-5087.   10.5194/amt-9-5077-2016   AbstractWebsite

With a GPS receiver on board an airplane, the airborne radio occultation (ARO) technique provides dense lower-tropospheric soundings over target regions. Large variations in water vapor in the troposphere cause strong signal multipath, which could lead to systematic errors in RO retrievals with the geometric optics (GO) method. The space-borne GPS RO community has successfully developed the full-spectrum inversion (FSI) technique to solve the multipath problem. This paper is the first to adapt the FSI technique to retrieve atmospheric properties (bending and refractivity) from ARO signals, where it is necessary to compensate for the receiver traveling on a non-circular trajectory inside the atmosphere, and its use is demonstrated using an end-to-end simulation system. The forward-simulated GPS L1 (1575.42 MHz) signal amplitude and phase are used to test the modified FSI algorithm. The ARO FSI method is capable of reconstructing the fine vertical structure of the moist lower troposphere in the presence of severe multipath, which otherwise leads to large retrieval errors in the GO retrieval. The sensitivity of the modified FSI-retrieved bending angle and refractivity to errors in signal amplitude and errors in the measured refractivity at the receiver is presented. Accurate bending angle retrievals can be obtained from the surface up to similar to 250m below the receiver at typical flight altitudes above the tropopause, above which the retrieved bending angle becomes highly sensitive to the phase measurement noise. Abrupt changes in the signal amplitude that are a challenge for receiver tracking and geometric optics bending angle retrieval techniques do not produce any systematic bias in the FSI retrievals when the SNR is high. For very low SNR, the FSI performs as expected from theoretical considerations. The 1% in situ refractivity measurement errors at the receiver height can introduce a maximum refractivity retrieval error of 0.5% (1 K) near the receiver, but the error decreases gradually to similar to 0.05% (0.1 K) near the surface. In summary, the ARO FSI successfully retrieves the fine vertical structure of the atmosphere in the presence of multipath in the lower troposphere.

Wang, KN, Garrison JL, Acikoz U, Haase JS, Murphy BJ, Muradyan P, Lulich T.  2016.  Open-loop tracking of rising and setting GPS radio-occultation signals from an airborne platform: Signal model and error analysis. Ieee Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing. 54:3967-3984.   10.1109/tgrs.2016.2532346   AbstractWebsite

Global Positioning System (GPS) radio-occultation (RO) is an atmospheric sounding technique utilizing the received GPS signal through the stratified atmosphere to measure refractivity, which provides information on temperature and humidity. The GPS-RO technique is now operational on several Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites, which cannot provide high temporal and spatial resolution soundings necessary to observe localized transient events, such as tropical storms. An airborne RO (ARO) system has thus been developed for localized GPS-RO campaigns. RO signals in the lower troposphere are adversely affected by rapid phase accelerations and severe signal power fading. These signal dynamics often cause the phase-locked loop in conventional GPS survey receivers to lose lock in the lower troposphere, and the open-loop (OL) tracking in postprocessing is used to overcome this problem. OL tracking also allows robust processing of rising GPS signals, approximately doubling the number of observed occultations. An approach for "backward" OL tracking was developed, in which the correlations are computed sequentially in reverse time so that the signal can be acquired and tracked at high elevations for rising occultations. Ultimately, the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) limits the depth of tracking in the atmosphere. We have developed a model relating the SNR to the variance in the residual phase of the observed signal produced from OL tracking. In this paper, we demonstrate the applicability of the phase variance model to airborne data. We then apply this model to set a threshold on refractivity retrieval based upon the cumulative unwrapping error bias to determine the altitude limit for reliable signal tracking. We also show consistency between the ARO SNR and collocated COSMIC satellite observations and use these results to evaluate the antenna requirements for an improved ARO system.

Xie, FQ, Haase JS, Syndergaard S.  2008.  Profiling the Atmosphere Using the Airborne GPS Radio Occultation Technique: A Sensitivity Study. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing. 46:3424-3435.   <u>10.1109/tgrs.2008.2004713</u>   AbstractWebsite

Global Positioning System (GPS) radio occultation (RO) sounding, with its high vertical resolution temperature and humidity profiling capability, is revolutionizing atmospheric science, particularly through assimilation in numerical weather prediction (NWP) models. Currently, the observations are derived from GPS receivers onboard low Earth orbiting satellites. However, with the current number of satellites, it is difficult to provide dense sounding measurements in a specific region within a limited time period. With a GPS receiver onboard an airplane, the GPS RO technique offers such an opportunity while retaining the high vertical resolution sounding capability. The GNSS Instrument System for Multistatic and Occultation Sensing is currently under development for the National Science Foundation's High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER) aircraft. This paper presents a sensitivity analysis of the airborne occultation technique that will be used for the HIAPER system. The results demonstrate an anticipated overall accuracy of better than 0.5% for the retrieved refractivity from the surface to about 1 km below the airplane, where the expected airplane velocity errors of up to 5 mm/s limit the accuracy. The effects on the retrievals due to horizontal variations in atmospheric refractivity are significant, and retrieval errors may reach several percent inside frontal systems when the front is perpendicular to the ray paths and within 200 km of the tangent point. In general, the airborne GPS RO system provides a promising new data source for NWP and targeted observational studies.