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https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-2019-36
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-2019-36
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 05 Dec 2019

Submitted as: research article | 05 Dec 2019

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal GI.

Progress in managing the transition from the RS92 to the Vaisala RS41 as the operational radiosonde within the GCOS Reference Upper-Air Network

Ruud J. Dirksen1, Greg E. Bodeker2, Peter W. Thorne3, Andrea Merlone4, Tony Reale5, Junhong Wang6, Dale F. Hurst7, Belay B. Demoz8, Tom D. Gardiner9, Bruce Ingleby10, Michael Sommer1, Christoph von Rohden1, and Thierry Leblanc11 Ruud J. Dirksen et al.
  • 1GRUAN Lead Centre, Deutscher Wetterdienst, Meteorologisches Observatorium Lindenberg, Am Observatorium 12, 15848 Tauche/Lindenberg, Germany
  • 2Bodeker Scientific, Alexandra, New Zealand
  • 3Maynooth University, Maynooth, Ireland
  • 4INRI, Turin, Italy
  • 5NOAA/NESDIS, Washington DC, USA
  • 6Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, State University of New York, Albany,USA
  • 7NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 8Howard University, Washington D.C., USA
  • 9National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, UK
  • 10ECMWF, Reading, UK
  • 11JPL, Pasadena, USA

Abstract. This paper describes the GRUAN-wide approach to manage the transition from the Vaisala RS92 to the Vaisala RS41 as the operational radiosonde. The goal of the GCOS Reference Upper-Air Network (GRUAN) is to provide long-term high-quality reference observations of upper air Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) such as temperature and water vapor. With GRUAN data being used for climate monitoring, it is vital that the change of measurement system does not introduce inhomogeneities in to the data record. The majority of the 27 GRUAN sites were launching the RS92 as their operational radiosonde, and following the end of production of the RS92 in the last quarter of 2017, most of these sites have now switched to the RS41. Such a large-scale change in instrumentation is unprecedented in the history of GRUAN and poses a challenge for the network. Several measurement programmes have been initiated to characterize differences in biases, uncertainties and noise between the two radiosonde types. These include laboratory characterization of measurement errors, extensive twin sounding studies with RS92 and RS41 on the same balloon, and comparison with ancillary data. This integrated approach is commensurate with the GRUAN principles of traceability and deliberate redundancy. A two-year period of regular twin soundings is recommended, and for sites that are not able to implement this burden sharing is employed, such that measurements at a certain site are considered representative of other sites with similar climatological characteristics. All data relevant to the RS92-RS41 transition are archived in a database that will be accessible to the scientific community for external scrutiny. Furthermore, the knowledge and experience gained about GRUAN's RS92-RS41 transition will be extensively documented to ensure traceability of the process. This documentation will benefit other networks in managing changes in their operational radiosonde systems.

Preliminary analysis of the laboratory experiments indicates that the manufacturer's calibration of the RS41's temperature and humidity sensors is more accurate than for the RS92; with uncertainties of < 0.1 K for the temperature and < 1 % RH for the humidity sensor. A first analysis of 224 RS92-RS41 twin soundings at Lindenberg Observatory show nighttime temperature differences < 0.1 K. However, daytime temperature differences in the stratosphere increase steadily with altitude, with TRS92-GDP.2 up to 0.6 K higher than TRS41 at 35 km. RHRS41 values are up to 8 % higher, which is consistent with the analysis of satellite-radiosonde collocations.

Ruud J. Dirksen et al.

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Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment

Ruud J. Dirksen et al.

Data sets

Data package related to article 'Progress in managing the transition from the RS92 to the Vaisala RS41 as the operational radiosonde within the GCOS Reference Upper-Air Network' R. Dirksen and M. Sommer https://doi.org/10.5676/GRUAN/dpkg-2019-1

Ruud J. Dirksen et al.

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Short summary
This paper describes GRUAN's strategy to a network-wide change in the operational radiosonde, from Vaisala RS92 to RS41. GRUAN's main goal is providing long-term data records that are free of inhomogeneities due to instrumental effects, which requires proper change management. The approach is to fully characterize the differences between both radiosonde types, using a.o. laboratory tests, twin soundings, ancillary data, and by drawing from the various fields of expertise available in GRUAN.
This paper describes GRUAN's strategy to a network-wide change in the operational radiosonde,...
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