Comparison of Water Vapor Measurements By Airborne Sun Photometer and Diode Laser Hygrometeron the NASA DC-8


In January–February 2003, the 14-channel NASA Ames airborne tracking sun photometer (AATS) and the NASA Langley/Ames diode laser hygrometer (DLH) were flown on the NASA DC-8 aircraft. The AATS measured column water vapor on the aircraft-to-sun path, while the DLH measured local water vapor in the free stream between the aircraft fuselage and an outboard engine cowling. The AATS and DLH measurements have been compared for two DC-8 vertical profiles by differentiating the AATS column measurement and/or integrating the DLH local measurement over the altitude range of each profile (7.7–10 km and 1.1–12.5 km). These comparisons extend, for the first time, tests of AATS water vapor retrievals to altitudes >∼6 km and column contents <0.1 g cm−2. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first time suborbital spectroscopic water vapor measurements using the 940-nm band have been tested in conditions so high and dry. Values of layer water vapor (LWV) calculated from the AATS and DLH measurements are highly correlated for each profile. The composite dataset yields r2 0.998, rms difference 7.7%, and bias (AATS minus DLH) 1.0%. For water vapor densities AATS and DLH had r2 0.968, rms difference 27.6%, and bias (AATS minus DLH) −4.2%. These results for water vapor density compare favorably with previous comparisons of AATS water vapor to in situ results for altitudes <∼6 km, columns ∼0.1 to 5 g cm−2, and densities ∼0.1 to 17 g m−3.

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