Water vapour transport to the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere by deep convective storms affects the radiation balance of the atmosphere and has been proposed as an important component of climate change. The aim of the work presented here is to understand if the GPS radio occultation technique is useful for characterization of this process. Our assessment addresses the question if severe storms leave a significant signature in radio occultation profiles in the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere. Radio occultation data from the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate (COSMIC) were analyzed, focusing on two particular tropical cyclones with completely different characteristics, the hurricane Bertha, which formed in the Atlantic Basin during July 2008 and reached a maximum intensity of Category 3, and the typhoon Hondo, which formed in the south Indian Ocean during 2008 reaching a maximum intensity of Category 4. The result is positive, suggesting that the bending angle of a GPS radio occultation signal contains interesting information on the atmosphere around the tropopause, but not any information regarding the water vapour. The maximum percentage anomaly of bending angle between 14 and 18 km of altitude during tropical cyclones is typically larger than the annual mean by 5–15% and it can reach 20% for extreme cases. The results are discussed in connection to the GPS radio occultation receiver which will be part of the Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space (ACES) payload on the International Space Station.
Advances in Space Research, 2011, Vol 47, Issue 2, p. 348-355