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A review of the remote sensing of lower tropospheric thermodynamic profiles and its indispensable role for the understanding and the simulation of water and energy cycles
  • Published Date:
    2015
  • Source:
    Reviews of Geophysics, 53(3), 819-895.
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A review of the remote sensing of lower tropospheric thermodynamic profiles and its indispensable role for the understanding and the simulation of water and energy cycles
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  • Description:
    A review of remote sensing technology for lower tropospheric thermodynamic (TD) profiling is presented with focus on high accuracy and high temporal-vertical resolution. The contributions of these instruments to the understanding of the Earth system are assessed with respect to radiative transfer, land surface-atmosphere feedback, convection initiation, and data assimilation. We demonstrate that for progress in weather and climate research, TD profilers are essential. These observational systems must resolve gradients of humidity and temperature in the stable or unstable atmospheric surface layer close to the ground, in the mixed layer, in the interfacial layerusually characterized by an inversionand the lower troposphere. A thorough analysis of the current observing systems is performed revealing significant gaps that must be addressed to fulfill existing needs. We analyze whether current and future passive and active remote sensing systems can close these gaps. A methodological analysis and demonstration of measurement capabilities with respect to bias and precision is executed both for passive and active remote sensing including passive infrared and microwave spectroscopy, the global navigation satellite system, as well as water vapor and temperature Raman lidar and water vapor differential absorption lidar. Whereas passive remote sensing systems are already mature with respect to operational applications, active remote sensing systems require further engineering to become operational in networks. However, active remote sensing systems provide a smaller bias as well as higher temporal and vertical resolutions. For a suitable mesoscale network design, TD profiler system developments should be intensified and dedicated observing system simulation experiments should be performed.

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