Voxel-optimized regional water vapor tomography and comparison with radiosonde and numerical weather model

Biyan Chen, Zhizhao Liu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


Water vapor tomography has been developed as a powerful tool to model spatial and temporal distribution of atmospheric water vapor. Global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) water vapor tomography refers to the 3D structural construction of tropospheric water vapor using a large number of GNSS signals that penetrate the tomographic modeling area from different positions. The modeling area is usually discretized into a number of voxels. A major issue involved is that some voxels are not crossed by any GNSS signal rays, resulting in an undetermined solution to the tomographic system. To alleviate this problem, the number of voxels crossed by GNSS signal rays should be as large as possible. An important way to achieve this is to optimize the geographic distribution of tomographic voxels. We propose an approach to optimize voxel distribution in both vertical and horizontal domains. In the vertical domain, water vapor profiles derived from radiosonde data are exploited to identify the maximum height of tomography and the optimal vertical resolution. In the horizontal domain, the optimal horizontal distribution of voxels is obtained by searching the maximum number of ray-crossing voxels in both latitude and longitude directions. The water vapor tomography optimization procedures are implemented using GPS water vapor data from the Hong Kong Satellite Positioning Reference Station Network. The tomographic water vapor fields solved from the optimized tomographic voxels are evaluated using radiosonde data and a numerical weather prediction non-hydrostatic model (NHM) obtained for the Hong Kong station. The comparisons of tomographic integrated water vapor (IWV) with the radiosonde and NHM IWV show that RMS errors of their differences are 1.41 and 3.09 mm, respectively. Moreover, the tomographic water vapor density results are compared with those of radiosonde and NHM. The RMS error of the density differences between tomography and radiosonde data is 1.05 g/m3. For the comparison between tomography and NHM, an overall RMS error of g/m3 is achieved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-703
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geodesy
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • GNSS
  • Voxel optimization
  • Water vapor tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Voxel-optimized regional water vapor tomography and comparison with radiosonde and numerical weather model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this