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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 4, issue 12
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 4, 2777–2793, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-4-2777-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Special issue: Validation of water vapor measurements during MOHAVE-2009

Atmos. Meas. Tech., 4, 2777–2793, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-4-2777-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 16 Dec 2011

Research article | 16 Dec 2011

Comparisons of temperature, pressure and humidity measurements by balloon-borne radiosondes and frost point hygrometers during MOHAVE-2009

D. F. Hurst1,2, E. G. Hall1,2, A. F. Jordan1,2, L. M. Miloshevich3, D. N. Whiteman4, T. Leblanc5, D. Walsh5, H. Vömel6, and S. J. Oltmans2 D. F. Hurst et al.
  • 1Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 2NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Global Monitoring Division, Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • 3Milo Scientific LLC, Lafayette, Colorado, USA
  • 4NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
  • 5Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Table Mountain Facility, Wrightwood, California, USA
  • 6Meteorologisches Observatorium Lindenberg, Deutscher Wetterdienst, Lindenberg, Germany

Abstract. We compare coincident, in situ, balloon-borne measurements of temperature (T) and pressure (P) by two radiosondes (Vaisala RS92, Intermet iMet-1-RSB) and similar measurements of relative humidity (RH) by RS92 sondes and frost point hygrometers. Data from a total of 28 balloon flights with at least one pair of radiosondes are analyzed in 1-km altitude bins to quantify measurement differences between the sonde sensors and how they vary with altitude. Each comparison (T, P, RH) exposes several profiles of anomalously large measurement differences. Measurement difference statistics, calculated with and without the anomalous profiles, are compared to uncertainties quoted by the radiosonde manufacturers. Excluding seven anomalous profiles, T differences between 19 pairs of RS92 and iMet sondes exceed their measurement uncertainty limits (2 σ) 31% of the time and reveal a statistically significant, altitude-independent bias of 0.5 ± 0.2 °C. Similarly, RS92-iMet P differences in 22 non-anomalous profiles exceed their uncertainty limits 23% of the time, with a disproportionate 83% of the excessive P differences at altitudes >16 km. The RS92-iMet pressure differences increase smoothly from −0.6 hPa near the surface to 0.8 hPa above 25 km. Temperature and P differences between all 14 pairs of RS92 sondes exceed manufacturer-quoted, reproducibility limits (σ) 28% and 11% of the time, respectively. About 95% of the excessive T differences are eliminated when 5 anomalous RS92-RS92 profiles are excluded. Only 5% of RH measurement differences between 14 pairs of RS92 sondes exceed the manufacturer's measurement reproducibility limit (σ). RH measurements by RS92 sondes are also compared to RH values calculated from frost point hygrometer measurements and coincident T measurements by the radiosondes. The influences of RS92-iMet Tand P differences on RH values and water vapor mixing ratios calculated from frost point hygrometer measurements are examined.

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