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Project name:

BENCHCLIM –Benchmark Climatologies from Radio Occultation Data
Project leader:Ulrich Foelsche
Project team:Barbara Scherllin-Pirscher (PostDoc: Analysis of RO data)
Florian Ladstädter (PhD Student: Processing of RO profile data and climatologies)
Gottfried Kirchengast (Senior Advisor)
Andrea Steiner (Advisor)
Partners:Advisory Partners:
Ying-Hwa Kuo, Christian Rocken (COSMIC Program, UCAR, Boulder, USA)
Jens Wickert (GFZ Potsdam, Germany),
Axel von Engeln (EUMETSAT, Darmstadt, Germany)


FWF - Austrian Science Fund



Accurate, consistent, long-term data are required for any attempt to detect, understand and attribute climate variability and change. Our knowledge about changes in the free atmosphere is still incomplete, despite notable efforts to build long-term upper air records. A new data source for climate monitoring, which can overcome some of the problems of established ones, is the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Radio Occultation (RO) technique. It has the potential to deliver climate benchmark measurements of the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS), since RO data can be traced, in principle, to the international standard for the second. In previous work we could indeed show an amazing consistency of climatologies derived from RO data from different satellites (better than 0.1K).

The value of RO data for climate monitoring is therefore increasingly recognized by the scientific community, but there is also concern about potential residual systematic errors in RO climatologies, which might be common to data from all satellites. We have compiled a list of possible reasons for such systematic errors and will analyze them in detail. This work will lead to a deeper understanding of remaining (small) systematic errors in RO climatologies, which will allow to avoid or remove some of these errors, and to provide quantitative error estimates for those, which cannot be removed. We will use this knowledge to improve the retrieval of RO, and to provide RO climatologies of bending angle, microwave refractivity, density, pressure, geopotential height, and temperature in the UTLS region, with unprecedented accuracy and consistency. Due to their quality, and rigorous characterization, these RO climatologies are expected to qualify as a benchmark for global UTLS climatologies of thermodynamic variables.

The dataset will be particularly suitable for climate variability and change monitoring in the UTLS region, e.g., changes in the height of the tropopause, changes in the transition height between tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling, or changes following any major volcanic eruption potentially occurring during the coming years. The improved understanding of systematic errors will also be useful in the field of Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP), where RO data are assimilated.

The overarching goal of BENCHCLIM is to quantify and (if possible) remove potential causes of residual systematic errors in Radio Occultation climatologies of the UTLS – especially those, which could pretend false trends in atmospheric parameters – and to provide high-quality climatologies of the UTLS to the scientific community.

Assoz. Prof. Mag. Dr.rer.nat.

Ulrich Foelsche

Phone:+43 316 380 - 8590

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