Application and Limitations of GPS Radio Occultation (GPS-RO) Data for Atmospheric Boundary Layer Height Detection over the Arctic.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Manisha Ganeshan, Universities Space Research Association Greenbelt, Greenbelt, MD, United States and Dong Liang Wu, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Cent, Greenbelt, MD, United States
Due to recent changes in the Arctic environment, it is important to monitor the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) properties over the Arctic Ocean, especially to explore the variability in ABL clouds (such as sensitivity and feedback to sea ice loss). For example, radiosonde and satellite observations of the Arctic ABL height (and low-cloud cover) have recently suggested a positive response to sea ice loss during October that may not occur during the melt season (June-September). Owing to its high vertical and spatiotemporal resolution, an independent ABL height detection algorithm using GPS Radio Occultation (GPS-RO) refractivity in the Arctic is explored. Similar GPS-RO algorithms developed previously typically define the level of the most negative moisture gradient as the ABL height. This definition is favorable for subtropical oceans where a stratocumulus-topped ABL is often capped by a layer of sharp moisture lapse rate (coincident with the temperature inversion). The Arctic Ocean is also characterized by stratocumulus cloud cover, however, the specific humidity does not frequently decrease in the ABL capping inversion. The use of GPS-RO refractivity for ABL height retrieval therefore becomes more complex. During winter months (December-February), when the total precipitable water in the troposphere is a minimum, a fairly straightforward algorithm for ABL height retrieval is developed. The applicability and limitations of this method for other seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall) is determined. The seasonal, interannual and spatial variability in the GPS-derived ABL height over the Arctic Ocean, as well as its relation to the underlying surface (ice vs. water), is investigated. The GPS-RO profiles are also explored for the evidence of low-level moisture transport in the cold Arctic environment.