Quality aspects of the Wegener Center multi-satellite GPS radio occultation record OPSv5.6
The demand for high-quality atmospheric data records, which are applicable in climate studies, is undisputed. Using such records requires knowledge of the quality and the specific characteristics of all contained data sources. The latest version of the Wegener Center (WEGC) multi-satellite Global Positioning System (GPS) radio occultation (RO) record, OPSv5.6, provides globally distributed upper-air satellite data of high quality, usable for climate and other high-accuracy applications. The GPS RO technique has been deployed in several satellite missions since 2001. Consistency among data from these missions is essential to create a homogeneous long-term multi-satellite climate record. In order to enable a qualified usage of the WEGC OPSv5.6 data set we performed a detailed analysis of satellite-dependent quality aspects from 2001 to 2017. We present the impact of the OPSv5.6 quality control on the processed data and reveal time-dependent and satellite-specific quality characteristics. The highest quality data are found for MetOp (Meteorological Operational satellite) and GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment). Data from FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC (Formosa Satellite mission-3/Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate) are also of high quality. However, comparatively large day-to-day variations and satellite-dependent irregularities need to be taken into account when using these data. We validate the consistency among the various satellite missions by calculating monthly mean temperature deviations from the multi-satellite mean, including a correction for the different sampling characteristics. The results are highly consistent in the altitude range from 8 to 25 km, with mean temperature deviations less than 0.1 K. At higher altitudes the OPSv5.6 RO temperature record is increasingly influenced by the characteristics of the bending angle initialization, with the amount of impact depending on the receiver quality.