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Royal Observatory of Belgium - Meridian Room

Atmospheric Water Vapour Observations at ROB and RMI for Weather and Climate Monitoring


  • Dr. Eric POTTIAUX

Primary authors



Both institutes, the Royal Observatory of Belgium (ROB) and the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) of Belgium, are monitoring and studying the atmospheric water vapour using several ground-based (GNSS), satellite-based (GOME,SCHIAMACHY, GOME-2, AIRS), and in-situ (radiosonde) measuring techniques but also atmospheric models (ERA-interim, ALARO). These activities mainly aim at improving weather forecasts, and understanding the climate system by monitoring its recent history. Concerning the weather forecasts, ROB participates for more than a decade in the EUMETNET E-GVAP program by maintaining a GNSS analysis centre for continuous remote sensing of the troposphere. Thanks to this analysis centre, ROB monitors the tropospheric water vapour based on GNSS observations, and provides operationally (e.g. every hour, 24x7x365) the meteorologists with tailored products for weather forecasting (data assimilation in their Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models and nowcasting applications). If the use of GNSS-based products for improving weather forecasts is today a well-established technique and operationally used, its use in climate science remains a quite pioneering field of research. Recently (2013-2017), a European COST Action ES1206 “GNSS4SWEC” (Advanced Global Navigation Satellite Systems tropospheric products for monitoring severe weather events and climate, http://www.cost.eu/COST_Actions/essem/ES1206) was partly dedicated to the use of GNSS in the climate observing system. Within GNSS4SWEC, ROB and RMI joined their efforts in order to exploit GNSS-based tropospheric products for monitoring and studying the recent climate. To achieve this, the 20+ year long water vapour time series obtained from GNSS remote sensing observations needs to be homogenised. RMI and ROB co-leaded such an activity in the context of GNSS4SWEC, an activity that is continued within the IAG JWG 4.3.8: "GNSS Tropospheric Products for Climate" (http://iag-gnssclimate.oma.be/). Another potential usage of GNSS for climate is the model validation. Both institutes also participates in the nationally funded project CORDEX.be (COordinated Regional Climate Downscaling EXperiment and beyond, http://cordex.meteo.be/), regrouping the 9 major Belgian actors in climate modelling and impact studies, and used the GNSS-based products for high-resolution climate model run assessment over Belgium. In this presentation, we will review the major ongoing activities at ROB and RMI in the field of meteorology and climate, identify synergies, and try to bridge them with ongoing and potential activities in Antarctica/polar regions.