Retrieval of water vapor profiles from GPS/MET radio occultations

D. B. O'Sullivan, B. M. Herman, D. Feng, D. E. Flittner, D. M. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Present Global Positioning System Meteorology (GPS/MET) refractivity profiles cannot distinguish between refractivity effects due to water vapor and those due to air density. Current methods of resolving the ambiguity rely heavily on ancillary upper-air data, such as National Centers for Environmental Prediction and European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) analyses. However, the accuracy of these ancillary sources suffers in regions where upper-air data are sparse. A method of separating the water vapor and temperature effects in GPS/MET-derived refractivity profiles with the addition of only ancillary surface pressure and temperature data and the hydrostatic assumption is discussed. Water vapor and temperature data derived from this method are presented and compared with accepted values. This method allows for the construction of temperature profiles with a mean bias of 0.33 K and a mean standard deviation of 1.86 K when compared with ECMWF data from 30 to 1000 mb. Height fields can also be corrected to within an average bias of 6 m and a standard deviation of 31 m. These corrected profiles result in retrieved water vapor pressure profiles with an average bias of 0.19 mb and a standard deviation of 0.53 mb.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1031-1040
Number of pages10
JournalBulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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