Twenty years of precipitable water vapor measurements in the Chajnantor area

Cortes, F.; Cortes, K.; Reeves, R.; Bustos, R.; Radford, S.


Context. Interest in the use of the Chajnantor area for millimeter and submillimeter astronomy is increasing because of its excellent atmospheric conditions. Knowing the general site annual variability in precipitable water vapor (PWV) can contribute to the planning of new observatories in the area. Aims. We seek to create a 20-year atmospheric database (1997-2017) for the Chajnantor area in northern Chile using a single common physical unit, PWV. We plan to extract weather relations between the Chajnantor Plateau and the summit of Cerro Chajnantor to evaluate potential sensitivity improvements for telescopes fielded in the higher site. We aim to validate the use of submillimeter tippers to be used at other sites and use the PWV database to detect a potential signature for local climate change over 20 years. Methods. We revised our method to convert from submillimeter tipper opacity to PWV. We now include the ground temperature as an input parameter to the conversion scheme and, therefore, achieve a higher conversion accuracy. Reults. We found a decrease in the measured PWV at the summit of Cerro Chajnantor with respect to the plateau of 28%. In addition, we found a PWV difference of 1.9% with only 27 m of altitude difference between two sites in the Chajnantor Plateau: the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment and the Cosmic Background Imager near the Atacama Large Millimeter Array center. This difference is possibly due to local topographic conditions that favor the discrepancy in PWV. The scale height for the plateau was extracted from the measurements of the plateau and the Cerro Chajnantor summit, giving a value of 1537 m. Considering the results obtained in this work from the long-term study, we do not see evidence of PWV trends in the 20-year period of the analysis that would suggest climate change in such a timescale.

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Título según WOS: Twenty years of precipitable water vapor measurements in the Chajnantor area
Título de la Revista: ASTRONOMY & ASTROPHYSICS
Volumen: 640
Fecha de publicación: 2020


Notas: ISI