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Summary of Proposal MTH1103

TitleHigh-resolutionwater vapour retrieval in Africa with TerraSAR-X InSAR
Investigator Wright, Tim - University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment
Team Member
Prof. Parker, Doug - University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment
Ms. Mallon, Sarah - University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment
SummaryChanges in atmospheric conditions (Pressure, Temperature and Water Vapourconcentrations) cause variations in the refractive index of the atmosphere, and therefore delays to radar signals passing through it. For most geodesists,these delays are simply considered as noise, and correction methods are sought. However, these signals potentially offer atmospheric physicists a snapshot of atmospheric conditions at an unprecedented spatial resolution. In particular, short wavelength variations in water vapour concentrations are impossible to map using conventional weather monitoring equipment. In this proposal we aim to acquire a sequence of radar acquisitions for 6 months over a coherent, non-deforming area of western Africa. An interferometric time series will be formed, and phase delays due to spatial variations in atmospheric path delay will be isolated. At least two acquisitions will coincide with a field campaign for the FENNEC project – a major consortium funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council, investigating the weather and climate of the Sahara, and its influence on the global climate system. Regular research flights through the radar footprint will be taking place, and a series of atmospheric instrument packages – “radiosondes” – will be dropped at the time of the satellite overpasses. The radiosonde data will be used to constrain a high resolution atmospheric model for the area. The atmospheric path delays derived from InSAR will then be compared to the predictions of the models to assess their accuracy. These new data will be particularly valuable in constraining processes associated with boundary layer convection cells, which have a characteristic lengthscale of ~1 km, much smaller than the resolution of most weather models.

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