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An observing system simulation experiment for climate monitoring with GNSS radio occulation data: setup and testbed study

Foelsche, U., Kirchengast, G., Steiner, A., Kornblueh, L., Manzini, E. and Bengtsson, L. (2008) An observing system simulation experiment for climate monitoring with GNSS radio occulation data: setup and testbed study. Journal of Geophysical Research, 113 (D11). ISSN 0148-0227

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/2007JD009231


The long-term stability, high accuracy, all-weather capability, high vertical resolution, and global coverage of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) radio occultation (RO) suggests it as a promising tool for global monitoring of atmospheric temperature change. With the aim to investigate and quantify how well a GNSS RO observing system is able to detect climate trends, we are currently performing an (climate) observing system simulation experiment over the 25-year period 2001 to 2025, which involves quasi-realistic modeling of the neutral atmosphere and the ionosphere. We carried out two climate simulations with the general circulation model MAECHAM5 (Middle Atmosphere European Centre/Hamburg Model Version 5) of the MPI-M Hamburg, covering the period 2001–2025: One control run with natural variability only and one run also including anthropogenic forcings due to greenhouse gases, sulfate aerosols, and tropospheric ozone. On the basis of this, we perform quasi-realistic simulations of RO observables for a small GNSS receiver constellation (six satellites), state-of-the-art data processing for atmospheric profiles retrieval, and a statistical analysis of temperature trends in both the “observed” climatology and the “true” climatology. Here we describe the setup of the experiment and results from a test bed study conducted to obtain a basic set of realistic estimates of observational errors (instrument- and retrieval processing-related errors) and sampling errors (due to spatial-temporal undersampling). The test bed results, obtained for a typical summer season and compared to the climatic 2001–2025 trends from the MAECHAM5 simulation including anthropogenic forcing, were found encouraging for performing the full 25-year experiment. They indicated that observational and sampling errors (both contributing about 0.2 K) are consistent with recent estimates of these errors from real RO data and that they should be sufficiently small for monitoring expected temperature trends in the global atmosphere over the next 10 to 20 years in most regions of the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS). Inspection of the MAECHAM5 trends in different RO-accessible atmospheric parameters (microwave refractivity and pressure/geopotential height in addition to temperature) indicates complementary climate change sensitivity in different regions of the UTLS so that optimized climate monitoring shall combine information from all climatic key variables retrievable from GNSS RO data.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Environmental Systems Science Centre
ID Code:1052
Publisher:American Geophysical Union

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