Case studies of the impact of orbital sampling on stratospheric trend detection and derivation of tropical vertical velocities: solar occultation vs. limb emission sounding
Abstract. This study investigates the representativeness of two types of orbital sampling applied to stratospheric temperature and trace gas fields. Model fields are sampled using real sampling patterns from the Aura Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS), the HALogen Occultation Experiment (HALOE) and the Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment Fourier Transform Spectrometer (ACE-FTS). The MLS sampling acts as a proxy for a dense uniform sampling pattern typical of limb emission sounders, while HALOE and ACE-FTS represent coarse nonuniform sampling patterns characteristic of solar occultation instruments. First, this study revisits the impact of sampling patterns in terms of the sampling bias, as previous studies have done. Then, it quantifies the impact of different sampling patterns on the estimation of trends and their associated detectability. In general, we find that coarse nonuniform sampling patterns may introduce non-negligible errors in the inferred magnitude of temperature and trace gas trends and necessitate considerably longer records for their definitive detection. Lastly, we explore the impact of these sampling patterns on tropical vertical velocities derived from stratospheric water vapor measurements. We find that coarse nonuniform sampling may lead to a biased depiction of the tropical vertical velocities and, hence, to a biased estimation of the impact of the mechanisms that modulate these velocities. These case studies suggest that dense uniform sampling such as that available from limb emission sounders provides much greater fidelity in detecting signals of stratospheric change (for example, fingerprints of greenhouse gas warming and stratospheric ozone recovery) than coarse nonuniform sampling such as that of solar occultation instruments.