Articles | Volume 6, issue 2
Review article
09 Sep 2014
Review article |  | 09 Sep 2014

A "Global Radiosonde and tracked-balloon Archive on Sixteen Pressure levels" (GRASP) going back to 1905 – Part 2: homogeneity adjustments for pilot balloon and radiosonde wind data

L. Ramella Pralungo and L. Haimberger

Abstract. This paper describes the comprehensive homogenization of the "Global Radiosonde and tracked balloon Archive on Sixteen Pressure levels" (GRASP) wind records. Many of those records suffer from artificial shifts that need to be detected and adjusted before they are suitable for climate studies.

Time series of departures between observations and the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration 20th-century (NOAA-20CR) surface pressure only reanalysis have been calculated offline by first interpolating the observations to pressure levels and standard synoptic times, if needed, and then interpolating the gridded NOAA-20CR standard pressure level data horizontally to the observation locations. These difference time series are quite sensitive to breaks in the observation time series and can be used for both automatic detection and adjustment of the breaks.

Both wind speed and direction show a comparable number of breaks, roughly one break in three stations. More than a hundred artificial shifts in wind direction could be detected at several US stations in the period 1938/1955. From the 1960s onward the wind direction breaks are less frequent. Wind speed data are not affected as much by measurement biases, but one has to be aware of a large fair-weather sampling bias in early years, when high wind speeds were much less likely to be observed than after 1960, when radar tracking was already common practice. This bias has to be taken into account when calculating trends or monthly means from wind speed data.

Trends of both wind speed and direction look spatially more homogeneous after adjustment. With the exception of a widespread wind direction bias found in the early US network, no signs of pervasive measurement biases could be found. The adjustments can likely improve observation usage when applied during data assimilation. Alternatively they can serve as a basis for validating variational wind bias adjustment schemes. Certainly, they are expected to improve estimates of global wind trends.

All the homogeneity adjustments are available in the PANGAEA archive with associated doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.823617.