Articles | Volume 5, issue 4
21 Mar 2005
21 Mar 2005

Water vapour and ozone profiles in the midlatitude upper troposphere

G. Vaughan, C. Cambridge, L. Dean, and A. W. Phillips

Abstract. We present an investigation of upper tropospheric humidity profiles measured with a standard radiosonde, the Vaisala RS80-A, and a commercial frost-point hygrometer, the Snow White. Modifications to the Snow White, to enable the mirror reflectivity and Peltier cooling current to be monitored during flight, were found to be necessary to determine when the instrument was functioning correctly; a further modification to prevent hydrometeors entering the inlet was also implemented. From 23 combined flights of an ozonesonde, radiosonde and Snow White between September 2001 and July 2002, clear agreement was found between the two humidity sensors, with a mean difference of <2% in relative humidity from 2 to 10km, and 2.2% between 10 and 13km. This agreement required a correction to the radiosonde humidity, as described by Miloshevich et al. (2001). Using this result, the dataset of 324 ozonesonde/RS80-A profiles measured from Aberystwyth between 1991 and 2002 was examined to derive statistics for the distribution of water vapour and ozone. Supersaturation with respect to ice was frequently seen at the higher levels - 24% of the time in winter between 8 and 10km. The fairly uniform distribution of relative humidity persisted to 120% in winter, but decreased rapidly above 100% in summer.

Final-revised paper