Abstract

Heterodyne submillimeter detection techniques represent an important development in the field of remote sensing of atmospheric composition. The disclosure of this wavelength region by new low-noise detectors and multichannel high-resolution spectrometers leads to expectations of improved accuracy and vertical resolution of the vertical composition profiles derived from these measurements. Because of the low-noise levels of newly developed receivers, special care is required to ensure that fundamental limitations of the components used do not contribute to systematic errors exceeding the random errors. Operated in an upward-looking geometry, the sensitivity of the retrieval algorithm to noise and instrumental errors can be rather high, and hence instrumental limitations could induce large uncertainties in the derived atmospheric information. Instrumental uncertainties typical for a passive heterodyne sounder are quantified, and their effects on the accuracy of the derived vertical mixing ratio profiles are presented.

© 2000 Optical Society of America

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