Reducing biases in XBT measurements by including discrete information from pressure switches

Marlos Goes, Gustavo Goni, Klaus Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Biases in the depth estimation of expendable bathythermograph (XBT) measurements cause considerable errors in oceanic estimates of climate variables. Efforts are currently underway to improve XBT probes by including pressure switches. Information from these pressure measurements can be used to minimize errors in the XBT depth estimation. This paper presents a simple method to correct the XBT depth biases using a number of discrete pressure measurements. A blend of controlled simulations of XBT measurements and collocated XBT/CTD data is used along with statistical methods to estimate error parameters, and to optimize the use of pressure switches in terms of number of switches, optimal depth detection, and errors in the pressure switch measurements to most efficiently correct XBT profiles. The results show that given the typical XBTdepth biases, using just two pressure switches is a reliable strategy for reducing depth errors, as it uses the least number of switches for an improved accuracy and reduces the variance of the resulting correction. Using only one pressure switch efficiently corrects XBT depth errors when the surface depth offset is small, its optimal location is at middepth (around or below 300 m), and the pressure switch measurement errors are insignificant. If two pressure switches are used, then results indicate that the measurements should be taken in the lower thermocline and deeper in the profile, at approximately 80 and 600 m, respectively, with an RMSE of approximately 1.6 m for pressure errors of 1 m.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)810-824
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Atmospheric Science


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