Articles | Volume 15, issue 9
Special issue:
30 Sep 1997
30 Sep 1997

Comparisons between Canadian prairie MF radars, FPI (green and OH lines) and UARS HRDI systems

C. E. Meek, A. H. Manson, M. D. Burrage, G. Garbe, and L. L. Cogger

Abstract. Detailed comparisons have been completed between the MF radars (MFR) in the Canadian prairies and three other systems: two ground-based Fabry-Perot interferometers (FPI) and the UARS high resolution Doppler imager (HRDI) system. The radars were at Sylvan Lake (52°N, 114°W), Robsart 
(49°N, 109°W) and the main continuing facility is at Saskatoon (52°N, 107°W). Statistical comparisons of hourly mean winds (1988-1992) for the Saskatoon MFR and FPI (557.7 nm green line) using scatter plots, wind speed-ratios, and direction-difference histograms show excellent agreement for Saskatoon. No serious biases in speeds or directions occur at the height of best agreement, 98 km. If anything, the MFR speeds appear bigger. The same applies to the Sylvan Lake MFR and Calgary FPI, where the best height is 88 km. In both cases these are close to the preferred heights for the emission layers. Differences between measurements seen on individual days are likely related to the influence of gravity waves (GW) upon the optical and radar systems, each of which have inherent spatial averaging (350, 50 km respectively), as well as the spatial difference between the nominal measurement locations. For HRDI, similar statistical comparisons are made, using single-overpass satellite winds and hourly means (to improve data quality) from MFR. Heights of best agreement, based upon direction-difference histograms, are shown; there is a tendency, beginning near 87 km, for these MFR heights to be 2 or 3 km greater than the HRDI heights. Speeds at these heights are typically larger for the satellite (MFR/HRDI = 0.7–0.8). Reasons for the differences are investigated. It is shown that the estimated errors and short-term (90 min) differences are larger for HRDI than for the MFR, indicating more noise or GW contamination. This leads to modest but significant differences in median speed-ratio (MFR/HRDI < 1). Also, comparison of the two systems is made under conditions when they agree best and when they show large disagreement. For the latter cases both systems show higher relative errors, and the HRDI vectors are frequently small. It is suggested that spatial or temporal GW wind fluctuations are the likely cause of the larger HRDI-MFR disagreement when wind speeds are small. No satisfactory explanation exists for the overall discrepancy in speeds between the MFR and HRDI.

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