An Approach for Retrieving Marine Boundary Layer Refractivity from GPS Occultation Data in the Presence of Superrefraction Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract The global positioning system (GPS) radio occultation (RO) technique has demonstrated the ability to precisely probe earths atmosphere globally with high vertical resolution. However, the lowermost troposphere still presents some challenges for the technique. Over moist marine areas, especially in subtropical regions, a very large negative moisture gradient often exists across the thermal inversion capping the marine boundary layer (MBL), which frequently causes superrefraction (SR), or ducting. In the presence of SR, the reconstruction of refractivity from RO data becomes an ill-posed inverse problem. This study shows that one given RO bending angle profile is consistent with a continuum (an infinite number) of refractivity profiles. The standard Abel retrieval gives the minimum refractivity solution of the continuum and thus produces the largest negative bias, consistent with a negative bias often present in the retrieved refractivity profiles in the moist lower troposphere. By applying a simple linear parameterization of the refractivity structure within and just below the SR layer, an analytical relation between the Abel-retrieved refractivity and a continuum of solutions is derived. Combining the Abel retrieval and the analytical relation with some physical constraints, a novel approach is developed to reconstruct the vertical refractivity structure within and below the SR layer. Numerical simulation studies in this paper have demonstrated the great potential of the reconstruction method to provide a much-improved retrieval in the presence of SR, and the method should greatly enhance the ability to measure the MBL structure globally using the GPS RO technique.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology

author list (cited authors)

  • Xie, F., Syndergaard, S., Kursinski, E. R., & Herman, B. M.

citation count

  • 68

complete list of authors

  • Xie, Feiqin||Syndergaard, Stig||Kursinski, E Robert||Herman, Benjamin M

publication date

  • December 2006