CIE4608 Atmospheric observation

Topics: Extensive course on atmospheric observations required in the fields of weather, climate and air quality
This course aims at providing up-to-date knowledge on atmospheric observations required in the fields of weather, climate and air quality. The course is structured into three parts, each approaching the atmosphere from a different viewpoint and introducing specific measurement techniques: the dry atmospheric composition (gases and aerosols), the wet atmospheric composition (water vapor, cloud and precipitation) and the thermodynamic processes of the atmosphere.

  1. Introduction: Relation between atmospheric and observation scales of the atmosphere (compared to ocean) and introduction to multi-scale observations sensors introductions (platforms types, remote-sensing / in-situ, passive / active sensor systems, wavelength range) reminder of definition absorption, extinction and scattering Explanation of main atmospheric units (ppb, ppbv, Dobson, water amount) observation configuration (e.g., for satellite polar, geo, Molina and nadir, limb, occultation for polar)
  2. Observation of the dry atmospheric composition (gases and aerosols):
    1. Satellite and Ground-based observation: Intro: scientific questions and challenges concerning the ozone layer, air quality and the climate system, short description of chemical composition of the atmosphere, reminder T and p curve, definition Dobson unit. Core: physical principles of the solar backscatter observation techniques, two standard ground based observation techniques of the atmosphere will be explained (Langley plot and intro ground based Brewer/Dobson)), Satellite retrieval. Most notably DOAS (Differential Optical Absorption Technique) technique (spectral fitting and air mass factor) ground based as well as satellite, Examples of Satellite observations of the chemical composition of the atmosphere, instruments: GOME, SCIAMACHY, GOME-2, OMI and TROPOMI. Touched upon: Chemistry and dynamics of the atmosphere related to the ozone layer and air quality, the radiation balance of the atmosphere and the increased greenhouse effect/IPCC, validation, e.g. ground based instruments, short explanation of ozone sounding and Dobson/Brewer, qualitative example of air craft campaign.
    2. Observation of dust particles with lidar. Introduction to lidar techniques (mainly backscatter and Raman types) and example of ashes cloud.
  3. Observation of the wet atmospheric composition (water vapor and hydrometeors):
    1. Water vapor: GPS water vapor meteorology (ground-based): principles of GPS and atmospheric interactions, total atmospheric delay estimation with GPS, comparison with other techniques for measuring water vapour, GPS tomography GPS radio occultation (space-based): principle of radio occultation and retrieval algorithms, differences with ground based GPS meteorology Radiometry applied to water vapor observation
    2. Condensed water: cloud and precipitation. Radiometer applied to condensed water observation. Radar: scanning and profiling radars, scattering matrix of hydrometeors, propagation aspects, Doppler radar spectral estimation, specific signal processing, spectral polarimetry, polarimetric basis to characterize precipitation, radar rainfall estimation, raindrop size distribution retrieval. Radar-lidar synergy
  4. Observation of dynamic of the atmosphere: Dynamics: wind, convection and turbulence with radar, wind lidar, sodar and sonic anenometer
  5. Retrieval and sensor synergy

After successful completion of this course, the student will:

  • Get new abilities to observe multi-scale atmospheric components / processes by acquiring knowledge on state-of-the-art techniques in measurements, data processing, retrievals, validation and sensor synergy.
  • Develop some practical skills on the way to perform observations by means of several assignments based on current on-going research activities.
  • Relate observation techniques to practical applications in the field of weather, climate and air quality


C.M.H. Unal

Last modified: 2016-02-24


Credits: 4 EC
Period: 0/0/0/6
Contact: Herman Russchenberg