Capturing the Signature of Severe Weather Events in Australia Using GPS Measurements

Capturing the Signature of Severe Weather Events in Australia Using GPS Measurements Rapid developments in satellite positioning, navigation, and timing have revolutionized surveying and mapping practice and significantly influenced the way people live and society operates. The advent of new generation global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) has heralded an exciting future for not only the GNSS community, but also many other areas that are critical to our society at large. With the rapid advances in space-based technologies and new dedicated space missions, the availability of large scale and dense contemporary GNSS networks such as regional continuously operating reference station (CORS) networks and the developments of new algorithms and methodologies, the ability of using space geodetic techniques to remotely sense the atmosphere (i.e., the troposphere and ionosphere) has dramatically improved. Real time GNSS-derived atmospheric variables with a high spatio-temporal resolution have become an important new source of measurements for meteorology, particularly for extreme weather events since water vapour (WV), as the most abundant element of greenhouse gas and accounting for ~70% of global warming, is under-sampled in current meteorological and climate observing systems. This study investigates the emerging area of GNSS technology for near real-time monitoring and forecasting of severe weather and climate change research. This includes both ground-based global positioning system (GPS)-derived precipitable water vapour (PWV) estimation and four-dimensional (4-D) tomographic modeling for wet refractivity fields. Two severe weather case studies were used to investigate the signature of GPS-derived PWV and wet refractivity derived from the 4-D GPS tomographic model under the influence of severe mesoscale convective systems (MCSs). GPS observations from the Victorian state-wide CORS network, i.e., GPSnet, in Australia were used. Results showed strong spatial and temporal correlations between the variations in the ground-based GPS-derived PWV and the- passage of the severe MCS. This indicates that the GPS method can complement conventional meteorological observations for the studying, monitoring, and potentially predicting of severe weather events. The advantage of using the ground-based GPS technique is that it can provide continuous observations for the storm passage with high temporal and spatial resolution. Results from these two case studies also suggest that GPS-derived PWV can resolve the synoptic signature of the dynamics and offer precursors to severe weather, and the tomographic technique has the potential to depict the three-dimensional (3-D) signature of wet refractivity for the convective and stratiform processes evident in MCS events. This research reveals the potential of using GNSS-derived PWV to strengthen numerical weather prediction (NWP) models and forecasts, and the potential for GNSS-derived PWV and wet refractivity fields to enhance early detection and sensing of severe weather.