Articles | Volume 16, issue 2
Research article
21 Jan 2016
Research article |  | 21 Jan 2016

Atmospheric polarimetric effects on GNSS radio occultations: the ROHP-PAZ field campaign

R. Padullés, E. Cardellach, M. de la Torre Juárez, S. Tomás, F. J. Turk, S. Oliveras, C. O. Ao, and A. Rius

Abstract. This study describes the first experimental observations showing that hydrometeors induce polarimetric signatures in global navigation satellite system (GNSS) signals. This evidence is relevant to the PAZ low Earth orbiter, which will test the concept and applications of polarimetric GNSS radio occultation (RO) (i.e. ROs obtained with a dual-polarization antenna). A ground field campaign was carried out in preparation for PAZ to verify the theoretical sensitivity studies on this concept (Cardellach et al., 2015). The main aim of the campaign is to identify and understand the factors that might affect the polarimetric GNSS observables. Studied for the first time, GNSS signals measured with two polarimetric antennas (H, horizontal, and V, vertical) are shown to discriminate between heavy rain events by comparing the measured phase difference between the H and V phase delays (ΔΦ) in different weather scenarios. The measured phase difference indicates higher dispersion under rain conditions. When individual events are examined, significant increases in ΔΦ occur when the radio signals cross rain cells. Moreover, the amplitude of such a signal is much higher than the theoretical prediction for precipitation; thus, other sources of polarimetric signatures have been explored and identified. Modelling of other hydrometeors, such as melting particles and ice crystals, have been proposed to explain the obtained measurements, with good agreement in more than 90 % of the cases.

Short summary
The ROHP-PAZ mission will collect, for the first time, GPS radio occultations at two polarizations with the aim of characterizing rain. Prior to the mission's launch (2016), a field campaign has been conducted to identify and understand the measurements. In this study we present the set-up and the results of such a campaign: the main finding is the confirmation of sensitivity to heavy rain and, unexpectedly, to other frozen hydrometeors. This is key information for the spaceborne experiment.
Final-revised paper