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Title: 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

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 layer – usually characterized by an inversion – and 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 positioning 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, activemore » 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.« less
ORCiD logo [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [1] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [6] ;  [7] ;  [8]
  1. Univ. of Hohenheim, Stuttgart (Germany). Institute of Physics and Meteorology.
  2. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, CO (United States). Earth System Research Lab.
  3. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Norman, OK (United States). National Severe Storms Lab.
  4. Argonne National Lab., Argonne, IL (United States). Environmental Science Div.
  5. Univ. degli Studi della Basilicata, Potenza (Italy). Scuola di Ingegneria.
  6. European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), Darmstadt (Germany)
  7. Observatoire de Physique du Globe de Clermont-Ferrand (France). Lab. de Météorologie Physique.
  8. German Research Center for Geosciences, Potsdam (Germany)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Reviews of Geophysics (1985)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Reviews of Geophysics (1985); Journal ID: ISSN 8755-1209
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Research Org:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
47 OTHER INSTRUMENTATION; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; remote sensing; lidar; IR and MW remote sensing; energy and water cycle; data assimilation; atmospheric boundary layer
OSTI Identifier: