Cloud detection from radio occultation measurements in tropical cyclones

Elzbieta Lasota, Witold Rohm, Chian Yi Liu, Pawel Hordyniec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Tropical cyclones (TC) are one of the main producers of clouds in the tropics and subtropics. Hence, most of the clouds in TCs are dense, with large water and ice content, and provide conditions conducive to investigate clouds' impact on Radio Occultation (RO) measurements. Although the RO technique is considered insensitive to clouds, recent studies show a refractivity positive bias in cloudy conditions. In this study, we analyzed the RO bending angle sensitivity to cloud content during tropical cyclone seasons between 2007 and 2010. Thermodynamic parameters were obtained from the ERA-Interim reanalysis, whereas the water and ice cloud contents were retrieved from the CloudSat profiles. Our experiments confirm the positive mean RO refractivity bias in cloudy conditions that reach up to more than 0.5% at the geometric height of around 7 km. A similar bias but larger and shifted up is visible in bending angle anomaly (1.6%). Our results reveal that the influence of clouds is significant and can exceed the RO bending angle standard deviation for 21 out of 50 (42%) investigated profiles. Mean clouds' impact is detectable between 9.0 and 10.5 km, while, in the case of single events, clouds in most of the observations are significant between 8 and 14 km. Almost 15% of the detectable clouds reach 16 km height, while the influence of the clouds below 5 km is insignificant. For more than half of the significant cases, the detection range is less than 3 km but for one observation this range spreads to 7-8 km.

Original languageEnglish
Article number418
Issue number11
StatePublished - 25 Oct 2018


  • Bending angle
  • CloudSat
  • Clouds
  • Radio Occultation
  • Refractivity
  • Tropical cyclone


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