The design of spectroscopic measurements of the atmosphere with the limb-scanning technique for the retrieval of constituent altitude profiles requires choosing instrumental, observational, and retrieval parameters. An approach to this problem is discussed, and the mathematical tools that make it possible to study the trade-off between the two conflicting requirements of optimum vertical resolution and small error of the profile are derived. As a first illustrative application, implementation of the mathematical tools in the design of measurements to be carried out from a satellite platform is shown; a set of parameters that provide a satisfactory compromise between the vertical resolution and the uncertainties of the retrieved profile has been identified. The mathematical model discussed can simulate the results obtained with retrieval techniques that are based on the global inversion of the kernel that relates the observations and the unknown profile. As a second application, a comparison between the a priori estimate of the uncertainties provided by the mathematical tools and the results of the global analysis of data collected with a balloon-borne experiment is shown.
© 1994 Optical Society of America
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