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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Atmos. Meas. Tech., 10, 2851-2880, 2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
11 Aug 2017
Intercomparison of atmospheric water vapour measurements at a Canadian High Arctic site
Dan Weaver1, Kimberly Strong1, Matthias Schneider2, Penny M. Rowe3,4, Chris Sioris5, Kaley A. Walker1,6, Zen Mariani7, Taneil Uttal8, C. Thomas McElroy5, Holger Vömel9, Alessio Spassiani10, and James R. Drummond11 1Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-ASF), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
3NorthWest Research Associates, Redmond, Washington, USA
4Department of Physics, Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Santiago, Chile
5Department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering, York University, Toronto, Canada
6Department of Chemistry, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
7Cloud Physics and Severe Weather Research Section, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
8Earth Systems Research Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado, USA
9Earth Observing Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
10School of Civil Engineering, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
11Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Abstract. Water vapour is a critical component of the Earth system. Techniques to acquire and improve measurements of atmospheric water vapour and its isotopes are under active development. This work presents a detailed intercomparison of water vapour total column measurements taken between 2006 and 2014 at a Canadian High Arctic research site (Eureka, Nunavut). Instruments include radiosondes, sun photometers, a microwave radiometer, and emission and solar absorption Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometers. Close agreement is observed between all combination of datasets, with mean differences  ≤  1.0 kg m−2 and correlation coefficients  ≥  0.98. The one exception in the observed high correlation is the comparison between the microwave radiometer and a radiosonde product, which had a correlation coefficient of 0.92.

A variety of biases affecting Eureka instruments are revealed and discussed. A subset of Eureka radiosonde measurements was processed by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Reference Upper Air Network (GRUAN) for this study. Comparisons reveal a small dry bias in the standard radiosonde measurement water vapour total columns of approximately 4 %. A recently produced solar absorption FTIR spectrometer dataset resulting from the MUSICA (MUlti-platform remote Sensing of Isotopologues for investigating the Cycle of Atmospheric water) retrieval technique is shown to offer accurate measurements of water vapour total columns (e.g. average agreement within −5.2 % of GRUAN and −6.5 % of a co-located emission FTIR spectrometer). However, comparisons show a small wet bias of approximately 6 % at the high-latitude Eureka site. In addition, a new dataset derived from Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer (AERI) measurements is shown to provide accurate water vapour measurements (e.g. average agreement was within 4 % of GRUAN), which usefully enables measurements to be taken during day and night (especially valuable during polar night).

Citation: Weaver, D., Strong, K., Schneider, M., Rowe, P. M., Sioris, C., Walker, K. A., Mariani, Z., Uttal, T., McElroy, C. T., Vömel, H., Spassiani, A., and Drummond, J. R.: Intercomparison of atmospheric water vapour measurements at a Canadian High Arctic site, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 10, 2851-2880,, 2017.
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We have compared techniques used by several PEARL instruments to measure atmospheric water vapour. No single instrument can comprehensively map the atmosphere. We documented how well these techniques perform and quantified the agreement and biases between them. This work showed that new FTIR datasets at PEARL capture accurate measurements of High Arctic water vapour.
We have compared techniques used by several PEARL instruments to measure atmospheric water...