Articles | Volume 31, issue 9
Regular paper
05 Sep 2013
Regular paper |  | 05 Sep 2013

GPS tomography: validation of reconstructed 3-D humidity fields with radiosonde profiles

M. Shangguan, M. Bender, M. Ramatschi, G. Dick, J. Wickert, A. Raabe, and R. Galas

Abstract. Water vapor plays an important role in meteorological applications; GeoForschungsZentrum (GFZ) therefore developed a tomographic system to derive 3-D distributions of the tropospheric water vapor above Germany using GPS data from about 300 ground stations. Input data for the tomographic reconstructions are generated by the Earth Parameter and Orbit determination System (EPOS) software of the GFZ, which provides zenith total delay (ZTD), integrated water vapor (IWV) and slant total delay (STD) data operationally with a temporal resolution of 2.5 min (STD) and 15 min (ZTD, IWV). The water vapor distribution in the atmosphere is derived by tomographic reconstruction techniques. The quality of the solution is dependent on many factors such as the spatial coverage of the atmosphere with slant paths, the spatial distribution of their intersections and the accuracy of the input observations. Independent observations are required to validate the tomographic reconstructions and to get precise information on the accuracy of the derived 3-D water vapor fields. To determine the quality of the GPS tomography, more than 8000 vertical water vapor profiles at 13 German radiosonde stations were used for the comparison. The radiosondes were launched twice a day (at 00:00 UTC and 12:00 UTC) in 2007. In this paper, parameters of the entire profiles such as the wet refractivity, and the zenith wet delay have been compared. Before the validation the temporal and spatial distribution of the slant paths, serving as a basis for tomographic reconstruction, as well as their angular distribution were studied. The mean wet refractivity differences between tomography and radiosonde data for all points vary from −1.3 to 0.3, and the root mean square is within the range of 6.5–9. About 32% of 6803 profiles match well, 23% match badly and 45% are difficult to classify as they match only in parts.