Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (Jul 2021)

GNSS-based water vapor estimation and validation during the MOSAiC expedition

  • B. Männel,
  • F. Zus,
  • G. Dick,
  • S. Glaser,
  • M. Semmling,
  • K. Balidakis,
  • J. Wickert,
  • J. Wickert,
  • M. Maturilli,
  • S. Dahlke,
  • H. Schuh,
  • H. Schuh

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 14
pp. 5127 – 5138


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Within the transpolar drifting expedition MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate), the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) was used among other techniques to monitor variations in atmospheric water vapor. Based on 15 months of continuously tracked GNSS data including GPS, GLONASS and Galileo, epoch-wise coordinates and hourly zenith total delays (ZTDs) were determined using a kinematic precise point positioning (PPP) approach. The derived ZTD values agree to 1.1 ± 0.2 mm (root mean square (rms) of the differences 10.2 mm) with the numerical weather data of ECMWF's latest reanalysis, ERA5, computed for the derived ship's locations. This level of agreement is also confirmed by comparing the on-board estimates with ZTDs derived for terrestrial GNSS stations in Bremerhaven and Ny-Ålesund and for the radio telescopes observing very long baseline interferometry in Ny-Ålesund. Preliminary estimates of integrated water vapor derived from frequently launched radiosondes are used to assess the GNSS-derived integrated water vapor estimates. The overall difference of 0.08 ± 0.04 kg m−2 (rms of the differences 1.47 kg m−2) demonstrates a good agreement between GNSS and radiosonde data. Finally, the water vapor variations associated with two warm-air intrusion events in April 2020 are assessed.