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Precipitable water observed by ground-based GPS receivers and microwave radiometry


The sensing of absolute precipitable water vapor (PW) by the Global Positioning System (GPS) and a Water Vapor Radiometer (WVR) is presented. The GPS approach requires a priori knowledge of the relationship between the weighted mean temperature of the atmosphere and surface temperature whose regression relationship is derived based on ten-year climatological data observed by radiosonde and surface meteorological instruments. Similarly, the WVR scheme needs a priori information of the relationship between sky brightness temperature and PW whose regression relationship is characterized based on the same set of climatological data. GPS-derived PW are compared with those observed by WVR and radiosondes. The GPS and WVR data were collected at the Taipei weather station of Taiwan Central Weather Bureau (CWB) from March 18 to 24, 1998. To obtain the estimates of absolute PW at the Taipei site, GPS data acquired from Tsukuba, Japan, at a distance of 2155 km from Taipei were utilized. It is found that GPS-derived PW agrees reasonably well with observations by the WVR and radiosondes. The average of GPS-derived PW is 3.38 cm with a standard deviation of 0.39 cm. The difference between the average GPS-derived and WVR-observed PW is 0.27 cm with a bias of −4 cm, while the difference between the average GPS-derived and radiosonde-observed PW is somewhat larger, 0.36 cm with a bias of −0.42 cm. These differences are larger than differences reported at higher latitudes in regions with lower average humidity.


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Correspondence to Yuei-An Liou.

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Liou, YA., Huang, CY. & Teng, YT. Precipitable water observed by ground-based GPS receivers and microwave radiometry. Earth Planet Sp 52, 445–450 (2000).

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  • Global Position System
  • Brightness Temperature
  • Global Position System Data
  • Atmospheric Water Vapor
  • Precipitable Water Vapor