In this paper the construction of real-time integrated water vapor (IWV) maps from a surface network of global positioning system (GPS) receivers is presented. The IWV maps are constructed using a two-dimensional variational technique with a persistence background that is 15 min old. The background error covariances are determined using a novel two-step method, which is based on the Hollingsworth–Lonnberg method. The quality of these maps is assessed by comparison with radiosonde observations and IWV maps from a numerical weather prediction (NWP) model. The analyzed GPS IWV maps have no bias against radiosonde observations and a small bias against NWP analysis and forecasts up to 9 h. The standard deviation with radiosonde observations is around 2 kg m−2, and the standard deviation with NWP increases with increasing forecast length (from 2 kg m−2 for the NWP analysis to 4 kg m−2 for a forecast length of 48 h). To illustrate the additional value of these real-time products for nowcasting, three thunderstorm cases are discussed. The constructed GPS IWV maps are combined with data from the weather radar, a lightning detection network, and surface wind observations. All cases show that the location of developing thunderstorms can be identified 2 h prior to initiation in the convergence of moist air.
S de Haan, I Holleman, AAM Holtslag. Real-Time Water Vapor Maps from a GPS Surface Network: Construction, Validation, and Applications
published, J. Appl. Meteor., 2009, 48