Precipitable water vapor above Dome A, Antarctica, determined from diffuse optical sky spectra

Geoff Sims, Michael C.B. Ashley, Xiangqun Cui, Jon R. Everett, Longlong Feng, Xuefei Gong, Shane Hengst, Zhongwen Hu, Craig Kulesa, Jon S. Lawrence, Daniel M. Luong-Van, Philippe Ricaud, Zhaohui Shang, John W.V. Storey, Lifan Wang, Huigen Yang, Ji Yang, Xu Zhou, Zhenxi Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The high altitudes and extremely low temperatures of the Antarctic plateau result in an exceedingly low atmospheric water vapor content. In this article we estimate the precipitable water vapor at Dome A using optical spectra of the diffuse solar irradiance in the zenith direction. The spectra were obtained from the Nigel spectrometer at Dome A during 2009. We find that the Nigel spectra contain sufficient information to extract daily average water vapor estimates, which agree with satellite observations to within ±0:22 mm. Finally, we use these water vapor estimates to model the optical and near-IR transmission (between 700 nm and 2.5 μm) of Dome A to demonstrate significant advantages gained in this wavelength range and compare it with that of Paranal and Chajnantor, two midlatitude observatories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-83
Number of pages10
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number911
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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