Precipitation instruments at Rothera Station, Antarctic Peninsula: a comparative study
Direct measurement of precipitation in the Antarctic using ground-based instruments is important to validate the results from climate models, reanalyses and satellite observations. Quantifying precipitation in Antarctica faces many unique challenges such as wind and other technical difficulties due to the harsh environment. This study compares a variety of precipitation measurements in Antarctica, including satellite data and reanalysis fields atRothera Station, Antarctica Peninsula. The tipping bucket gauges (TBGs) were less sensitive than laser-based sensors (LBSs). The most sensitive LBS (Visibility and Present Weather Sensor, VPF-730) registered 276 precipitation days, while the most sensitive TBG (Universal Precipitation Gauge, UPG-1000) detected 152 precipitation days. Case studies of the precipitation and seasonal accumulation results show the VPF-730 to be the most reliable precipitation sensor of the evaluated instruments. The precipitation amounts given by the reanalyses were positively correlated with wind speed. The precipitation from the Japanese 55-year Reanalysis was most affected by wind speed. Case studies also show that during low wind periods, precipitation measurements from the instruments were very close to the precipitation measurement given by the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) 1-degree-daily (1DD) data. During strong wind events, the GPCP 1DD did not fully capture the effect of wind, accounting for the relatively small precipitation amount. The Laser Precipitation Monitor (LPM) and Campbell Scientific-700 (CS700H) experienced instrumental errors during the study, which caused the precipitation readings to become exceedingly high and low, respectively. Installing multiple LBSs in different locations (in close proximity) can help identify inconsistency in the readings.