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Hurter F.,ETH Zurich | Maier O.,Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss
Atmospheric Measurement Techniques | Year: 2013

We reconstruct atmospheric wet refractivity profiles for the western part of Switzerland with a least-squares collocation approach from data sets of (a) zenith path delays that are a byproduct of the GPS (global positioning system) processing, (b) ground meteorological measurements, (c) wet refractivity profiles from radio occultations whose tangent points lie within the study area, and (d) radiosonde measurements. Wet refractivity is a parameter partly describing the propagation of electromagnetic waves and depends on the atmospheric parameters temperature and water vapour pressure. In addition, we have measurements of a lower V-band microwave radiometer at Payerne. It delivers temperature profiles at high temporal resolution, especially in the range from ground to 3000 m a.g.l., though vertical information content decreases with height. The temperature profiles together with the collocated wet refractivity profiles provide near-continuous dew point temperature or relative humidity profiles at Payerne for the study period from 2009 to 2011. In the validation of the humidity profiles, we adopt a two-step procedure. We first investigate the reconstruction quality of the wet refractivity profiles at the location of Payerne by comparing them to wet refractivity profiles computed from radiosonde profiles available for that location. We also assess the individual contributions of the data sets to the reconstruction quality and demonstrate a clear benefit from the data combination. Secondly, the accuracy of the conversion from wet refractivity to dew point temperature and relative humidity profiles with the radiometer temperature profiles is examined, comparing them also to radiosonde profiles. For the least-squares collocation solution combining GPS and ground meteorological measurements, we achieve the following error figures with respect to the radiosonde reference: maximum median offset of relative refractivity error is -16% and quartiles are 5% to 40% for the lower troposphere. We further added 189 radio occultations that met our requirements. They mostly improved the accuracy in the upper troposphere. Maximum median offsets have decreased from 120% relative error to 44% at 8 km height. Dew point temperature profiles after the conversion with radiometer temperatures compare to radiosonde profiles as to: absolute dew point temperature errors in the lower troposphere have a maximum median offset of -2 K and maximum quartiles of 4.5 K. For relative humidity, we get a maximum mean offset of 7.3%, with standard deviations of 12-20%. The methodology presented allows us to reconstruct humidity profiles at any location where temperature profiles, but no atmospheric humidity measurements other than from GPS are available. Additional data sets of wet refractivity are shown to be easily integrated into the framework and strongly aid the reconstruction. Since the used data sets are all operational and available in near-realtime, we envisage the methodology of this paper to be a tool for nowcasting of clouds and rain and to understand processes in the boundary layer and at its top. © Author(s) 2013.

Philipona R.,Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss
International Journal of Climatology | Year: 2013

At low elevations (500 m a.s.l.) Central Europe's surface temperature increased about 1.3 °C since 1981. Interestingly, at high elevations (2200 m a.s.l.) in the Alps, temperature rose less than 1 °C over the same period. Detailed investigations of temperature, humidity and the radiation budget at lowland and alpine climate stations now show that the difference in temperature rise is likely related to unequal solar- and greenhouse warming. The analysis shows that the important decline of anthropogenic aerosols in Europe since the mid-1980s led to solar brightening at low elevations, whereas inherent low aerosol concentrations at high elevations led to only minor changes of solar radiation in the Alps. In the Lowland, absolute humidity and also total net radiation show an about 6% K-1 Clausius-Clapeyron conform increase with temperature since the 1980s. In the Alps, however, the percentage increase rate of humidity and total net radiation is more than twice as large. This large water vapour increase in the Alps is likely related to strong warming and thermal advection in the Lowlands, and may also have increased due to atmospheric circulation changes. Hence, while in the Alps temperature increased primarily due to strong water vapour enhanced greenhouse warming, solar brightening combined with anthropogenic greenhouse gas and water vapour feedback greenhouse warming led to a higher temperature increase at low elevations in Central Europe. © 2012 Royal Meteorological Society.

Scherrer S.C.,Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss
International Journal of Climatology | Year: 2011

Interannual variability (IAV) of 2m temperature (T), sea level pressure (SLP) and precipitation (P) in the CMIP3 20th century model simulations are compared with IAV in observational and reanalysis data sets using standard deviation based variability indices. Further, the relation between the representation of T IAV and the amplitude of future warming is investigated. In the Northern Hemisphere (NH) extratropics, T and SLP IAV are (in contrast to P) in general well represented although a few models perform much worse than others. General problem regions are: (1) sea ice boundary regions, where well-known biases in the mean states exist; and (2) the Pacific Ocean and Central Africa where SLP IAV is consistently underestimated. T and SLP IAV discrepancies are often found in similar regions and are large in well-known bias problem regions in the tropics and subtropics and high mountain regions. 'Bad' IAV representation also occurs in regions with small biases. T IAV is in general better reproduced over land than over sea and in the extratropics than in the tropics. Among the 'good' IAV models there is no robust relation between the tropics (sea only) and the extratropics (land only). The relation between the model's ability to correctly represent T IAV and projected temperature changes is slightly negative (more warming for better IAV representation) but except for the NH summer season not significant when the worst models in terms of IAV representation are omitted. This suggests that aggregated over large regions (with exception of NH summer) no robust relations are found between the model's ability to correctly represent T IAV and the projected temperature change. © 2010 Royal Meteorological Society.

Frei C.,Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss
International Journal of Climatology | Year: 2014

In mountain regions, the distribution of surface air temperature happens to show marked horizontal gradients and nonlinear variations with topographic height. These pose a major challenge for the construction of area-wide temperature datasets on a regular grid. This study introduces a new deterministic method's for the spatial interpolation of daily temperature from station measurements. Building on a scale-separation concept, the methods main features are (1) a nonlinear parametric function to model nonlinearities in the vertical thermal profile at the scale of major basins, and (2) a distance weighting scheme with a non-Euclidean metric that accounts for terrain effects on the spatial representativity of measurements. The method is configured for the territory of Switzerland (European Alps) and is applied for the construction of a km-scale grid dataset from 70-100 stations over all days from 1961 to 2010. Several illustrative cases attest the method's potential, also under challenging conditions. Temperature patterns from basin-scale inversions and surface heated/cooled boundary layers are realistically reproduced. In situations with valley-scale cold-air pools and foehn, the method is less prone to artificial upslope/downslope extrapolation often observed with other techniques. With a network of 100 stations in Switzerland, typical interpolation errors (mean absolute error MAE, cross-validation) range from 0.5 °C over flat and hilly terrain in summer to 1.5 °C in the Alps in winter. Larger and partly systematic errors (MAE ≥ 3 °C) must be expected in un-sampled valleys in winter due to the missing out of local-scale cold pools. Interpolation accuracy was found to vary with the change in station density over time, demonstrating improvements in the overall representativity of the measurement network. But this also compromises the long-term homogeneity of the grid dataset, despite it being based on homogeneous records. The presented method may be applicable in other mountain regions after some configuration. © 2013 Royal Meteorological Society.

Vernez D.,University of Geneva | Milon A.,University of Geneva | Vuilleumier L.,Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss | Bulliard J.-L.,University of Lausanne
British Journal of Dermatology | Year: 2012

Background The dose-response between ultraviolet (UV) exposure patterns and skin cancer occurrence is not fully understood. Sun-protection messages often focus on acute exposure, implicitly assuming that direct UV radiation is the key contributor to the overall UV exposure. However, little is known about the relative contribution of the direct, diffuse and reflected radiation components. Objective To investigate solar UV exposure patterns at different body sites with respect to the relative contribution of the direct, diffuse and reflected radiation. Methods A three-dimensional numerical model was used to assess exposure doses for various body parts and exposure scenarios of a standing individual (static and dynamic postures). The model was fed with erythemally weighted ground irradiance data for the year 2009 in Payerne, Switzerland. A year-round daily exposure (08:00-17:00 h) without protection was assumed. Results For most anatomical sites, mean daily doses were high (typically 6·2-14·6 standard erythemal doses) and exceeded the recommended exposure values. Direct exposure was important during specific periods (e.g. midday during summer), but contributed moderately to the annual dose, ranging from 15% to 24% for vertical and horizontal body parts, respectively. Diffuse irradiation explained about 80% of the cumulative annual exposure dose. Acute diffuse exposures were also observed during cloudy summer days. Conclusions The importance of diffuse UV radiation should not be underestimated when advocating preventive measures. Messages focused on avoiding acute direct exposures may be of limited efficiency to prevent skin cancers associated with chronic exposure. © 2012 The Authors. BJD © 2012 British Association of Dermatologists.

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