Laboratory characterisation of the radiation temperature error of radiosondes and its application to the GRUAN data processing for the Vaisala RS41


Christoph von Rohden, Michael Sommer, Tatjana Naebert, Vasyl Motuz, and Ruud J. Dirksen


by Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT) at 2022-01-27


The paper presents the Simulator for Investigation of Solar Temperature Error of Radiosondes (SISTER), a setup that was developed to quantify the solar heating of the temperature sensor of radiosondes under laboratory conditions by recreating as closely as possible the atmospheric and illumination conditions that are encountered during a daytime radiosounding ascent. SISTER controls the pressure (3 to 1020 hPa) and ventilation speed of the air inside the wind-tunnel-like setup to simulate the conditions between the surface and 35 km altitude, to determine the dependence of the radiation temperature error on the irradiance and the convective cooling. The radiosonde is mounted inside a quartz tube, while the complete sensor boom is illuminated by an external light source to include the conductive heat transfer between sensor and boom. A special feature of SISTER is that the radiosonde is rotated around its axis to imitate the spinning of the radiosonde in flight. The characterisation of the radiation temperature error is performed for various pressures, ventilation speeds, and illumination angles, yielding a 2D parameterisation of the radiation error for each illumination angle, with an uncertainty smaller than 0.2 K (k=2) for typical ascend speeds. This parameterisation is applied in the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Reference Upper-Air Network (GRUAN) processing for radiosonde data, which relies on the extensive characterisation of the sensor properties to produce a traceable reference data product which is free of manufacturer-dependent effects. The GRUAN radiation correction model combines the laboratory characterisation with model calculations of the actual radiation field during the sounding to estimate the correction profile. In the second part of this paper it is described how this procedure was applied in the development of the GRUAN data product for the Vaisala RS41 radiosonde (version 1, RS41-GDP.1). The magnitude of the averaged correction profile increases gradually from 0.1 K at the surface to approximately 0.8 K at 35 km altitude. Comparisons between sounding data (N=154) that were GRUAN-processed and Vaisala-processed reveal that the daytime differences (GRUAN−Vaisala) are smaller than +0.1 K in the troposphere and increase above the tropopause steadily with altitude to +0.35 K at 35 km. These differences are just within the limits of the combined uncertainties (with coverage factor k=2) of both data products, meaning that the GRUAN processing and the Vaisala processing are in agreement.


von Rohden, C., Sommer, M., Naebert, T., Motuz, V., and Dirksen, R. J.: Laboratory characterisation of the radiation temperature error of radiosondes and its application to the GRUAN data processing for the Vaisala RS41, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 15, 383–405, https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-15-383-2022, 2022.


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