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Volume 11, issue 4 | Copyright

Special issue: Observing Atmosphere and Climate with Occultation Techniques...

Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 1947-1969, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 06 Apr 2018

Research article | 06 Apr 2018

A variational regularization of Abel transform for GPS radio occultation

Tae-Kwon Wee Tae-Kwon Wee
  • COSMIC Project Office, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Abstract. In the Global Positioning System (GPS) radio occultation (RO) technique, the inverse Abel transform of measured bending angle (Abel inversion, hereafter AI) is the standard means of deriving the refractivity. While concise and straightforward to apply, the AI accumulates and propagates the measurement error downward. The measurement error propagation is detrimental to the refractivity in lower altitudes. In particular, it builds up negative refractivity bias in the tropical lower troposphere. An alternative to AI is the numerical inversion of the forward Abel transform, which does not incur the integration of error-possessing measurement and thus precludes the error propagation. The variational regularization (VR) proposed in this study approximates the inversion of the forward Abel transform by an optimization problem in which the regularized solution describes the measurement as closely as possible within the measurement's considered accuracy. The optimization problem is then solved iteratively by means of the adjoint technique. VR is formulated with error covariance matrices, which permit a rigorous incorporation of prior information on measurement error characteristics and the solution's desired behavior into the regularization. VR holds the control variable in the measurement space to take advantage of the posterior height determination and to negate the measurement error due to the mismodeling of the refractional radius. The advantages of having the solution and the measurement in the same space are elaborated using a purposely corrupted synthetic sounding with a known true solution. The competency of VR relative to AI is validated with a large number of actual RO soundings. The comparison to nearby radiosonde observations shows that VR attains considerably smaller random and systematic errors compared to AI. A noteworthy finding is that in the heights and areas that the measurement bias is supposedly small, VR follows AI very closely in the mean refractivity deserting the first guess. In the lowest few kilometers that AI produces large negative refractivity bias, VR reduces the refractivity bias substantially with the aid of the background, which in this study is the operational forecasts of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). It is concluded based on the results presented in this study that VR offers a definite advantage over AI in the quality of refractivity.

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Short summary
The refractivity in the radio occultation (RO) is generally obtained from the inverse Abel transform (AI) of measured bending angle. While concise and mathematically exact, AI is susceptible to the error present in the measurement. Aiming to reduce the adverse effects of the measurement error, this study proposes a new method for determining the refractivity through a variational regularization (VR). Verification shows that VR offers a definite advantage over AI in the quality of refractivity.
The refractivity in the radio occultation (RO) is generally obtained from the inverse Abel...