Development and testing of the Active Temperature, Ozone and Moisture Microwave Spectrometer (ATOMMS) cm and mm wavelength occultation instrument

E. R. Kursinski, D. Ward, M. Stovern, A. C. Otarola, A. Young, B. Wheelwright, R. Stickney, S. Albanna, B. Duffy, Christopher Groppi, J. Hainsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


We present initial results from testing a new remote sensing system called the Active Temperature, Ozone and Moisture Microwave Spectrometer (ATOMMS). ATOMMS is designed as a satellite-to-satellite occultation system for monitoring climate. We are developing the prototype instrument for an aircraft to aircraft occultation demonstration. Here we focus on field testing of the ATOMMS instrument, in particular the remote sensing of water by measuring the attenuation caused by the 22 GHz and 183 GHz water absorption lines.

Our measurements of the 183 GHz line spectrum along an 820 m path revealed that the AM 6.2 spectroscopic model provdes a much better match to the observed spectrum than the MPM93 model. These comparisons also indicate that errors in the ATOMMS amplitude measurements are about 0.3%. Pressure sensitivity bodes well for ATOMMS as a climate instrument. Comparisons with a hygrometer revealed consistency at the 0.05 mb level, which is about 1% of the absolute humidity.

Initial measurements of absorption by the 22 GHz line made along a 5.4 km path between two mountaintops captured a large increase in water vapor similar to that measured by several nearby hygrometers. A storm passage between the two instruments yielded our first measurements of extinction by rain and cloud droplets. Comparisons of ATOMMS 1.5 mm opacity measurements with measured visible opacity and backscatter from a weather radar revealed features simultaneously evident in all three datasets confirming the ATOMMS measurements. The combined ATOMMS, radar and visible information revealed the evolution of rain and cloud amounts along the signal path during the passage of the storm. The derived average cloud water content reached typical continental cloud amounts. These results demonstrated a significant portion of the information content of ATOMMS and its ability to penetrate through clouds and rain which is critical to its all-weather, climate monitoring capability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-456
Number of pages18
JournalAtmospheric Measurement Techniques
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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