Boundary Layer, Urban Meteorology and Land-Surface Processes

Evaluation of a Microwave Radiometer Thermodynamic Retrieval Algorithm

Stephen Castleberry
OU School of Meteorology

25 April 2014, 2:00 PM

National Weather Center, Room 5600
120 David L. Boren Blvd.
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK

With an ever-growing need to improve the understanding and prediction of how mesoscale and smaller weather features initiate and evolve, there is a strong motivation for higher resolution thermodynamic profiling of temperature and humidity on smaller spatial and temporal scales than can be provided by current observational strategies. For example, while radiosondes do provide accurate thermodynamic profile information at synoptic-scale (generally twice per day) timing, the infrequency of these observations make it possible to potentially miss the onset and evolution of meteorological events that occur on much smaller time scales. Further, while satellite-based remote sensing and aircraft observations produce accurate observations on the free troposphere, the need for observations of thermodynamics in the boundary layer and lower troposphere is a critical gap in our measurement strategy.
One potential way to fill this gap is to utilize thermodynamic profiling from a microwave radiometer (MWR). The MWR measures downwelling radiance from the atmosphere in the microwave portion of the spectrum (~20 to 60 GHz), which can be used in an iterative thermodynamic retrieval algorithm to retrieve vertical temperature and humidity profiles within the lowest 2-4 km of the atmosphere (within and just above the boundary layer) at temporal resolutions on the order of 5 min. This research focuses on using a dataset from a Radiometrics MP-3000A MWR, which was operated on the rooftop of the National Weather Center in Norman, OK, from approximately October 2011 through June 2013. An algorithm was implemented, the error characteristics evaluated, and several case studies are being examined. This project’s overall aim is to eventually use this algorithm to help supplement existing profiling systems and radiosonde observations to improve current boundary layer studies and improve the evaluation of pre-convective environments and weather forecasting.

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