Response of GPS occultation signals to atmospheric gravity waves and retrieval of gravity wave parameters

Y. A. Liou, A. G. Pavelyev, J. Wickert, C. Y. Huang, S. K. Yan, S. F. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


We show that the amplitude of the Global Positioning System (GPS) signals in the radio occultation (RO) experiments is an indicator of the activity of the gravity waves (GW) in the atmosphere. The amplitude of the GPS RO signals is more sensitive to the atmospheric wave structures than is the phase. Early investigations used only the phase of the GPS occultation signals for statistical investigation of the GW activity in the height interval 10–40 km on a global scale. In this study, we use the polarization equations and Hilbert transform to find the 1-D GW radio image in the atmosphere by analyzing the amplitude of the RO signal. The radio image, also called the GW portrait, consists of the phase and amplitude of the GW as functions of height. We demonstrate the potential of this method using the amplitude data from GPS/Meteorology (GPS/MET) and satellite mission Challenge Mini-satellite Payload (CHAMP) RO events. The GW activity is nonuniformly distributed with the main contribution associated with the tropopause and the secondary maximums related to the GW breaking regions. Using our method we find the vertical profiles of the horizontal wind perturbations and its vertical gradient associated with the GW influence. The estimated values of the horizontal wind perturbations are in fairly good agreement with radiosonde data. The horizontal wind perturbations v(h) are ±1 to ±5 m s with vertical gradients dv/dh ±0.5 to ±15 m s km at height 10–40 km. The height dependence of the GW vertical wavelength was inferred through the differentiation of the GW phase. Analysis of this dependence using the dispersion relationship for the GW gives the estimation of the projection of the horizontal background wind velocity on the direction of the GW propagation. For the event considered, the magnitude of this projection changes between 1.5 and 10 m s at heights of 10–40 km. We conclude that the amplitude of the GPS occultation signals contain important information about the wave processes in the atmosphere on a global scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-111
Number of pages9
JournalGPS Solutions
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Jul 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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