Evaluating the quality of ground-based microwave radiometer measurements and retrievals using detrended fluctuation and spectral analysis methods

K. Ivanova, E. E. Clothiaux, H. N. Shirer, T. P. Ackerman, J. C. Liljegren, M. Ausloos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Time series both of microwave radiometer brightness temperature measurements at 23.8 and 31.4 GHz and of retrievals of water vapor and liquid water path from these brightness temperatures are evaluated using the detrended fluctuation analysis method. As quantified by the parameter α, this method (i) enables identification of the timescales over which noise dominates the time series and (ii) characterizes the temporal range of correlations in the time series. The more common spectral analysis method is also used to assess the data, and its results are compared with those from the detrended fluctuation analysis method. The assumption that measurements should have certain scaling properties allows the quality of the measurements to be characterized. The additional assumption that the scaling properties of the measurements of an atmospheric quantity are preserved in a useful retrieval provides a means for evaluating the retrieval itself. Applying these two assumptions to microwave radiometer measurements and retrievals demonstrates three points. First, the retrieved water vapor path during cloudy-sky periods can be dominated by noise on shorter-than-30-min timescales (α exponent = 0.1) and exhibits no scaling behavior at longer timescales. However, correlations in the brightness temperatures and liquid water path retrievals are found to be consistent with a power-aw behavior for timescales up to 3 h with an α exponent equal to approximately 0.3, as in other geophysical phenomena. Second, clear-sky, moist atmospheres show the expected scaling for both measurements and retrievals of the water vapor path. Third, during clear-sky, dry atmospheric days, instrument noise from the 31.4-GHz channel compromises the quality of the water vapor path retrieval. The detrended fluctuation analysis method is thus proposed as means for assessing the quality of both the instrument data and the retrieved parameters obtained from these data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-68
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluating the quality of ground-based microwave radiometer measurements and retrievals using detrended fluctuation and spectral analysis methods'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this