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Cloud-Drift and Water Vapor Winds in the Polar Regions From MODIS

Key, J. R., D. Santek, C. Velden, N. Bormann, J. Thépaut, L. P. Riishojgaard, Y. Zhu, and P. Menzel (2003), Cloud-Drift and Water Vapor Winds in the Polar Regions From MODIS, IEEE Trans. Geosci. Remote Sens., 41, 482-492, doi:10.1109/TGRS.2002.808238.

Wind products from geostationary satellites have been generated for over 20 years and are now used in numerical weather prediction systems. However, geostationary satellites are of limited utility poleward of the midlatitudes. This study demonstrates the feasibility of deriving high latitude tropospheric wind information from polar-orbiting satellites. The methodology employed is based on the algorithms currently used with geostationary satellites, modified for use with the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) infrared window and water vapor bands. These bands provide wind information throughout the troposphere in both clear and cloudy conditions. The project presents some unique challenges, including the irregularity of temporal sampling, varying viewing geometries, and uncertainties in wind vector height assignment as a result of low atmospheric water vapor amounts and thin clouds. A 30-day case study dataset has been produced and is being used in model impact studies. Preliminary results are encouraging: when the MODIS winds are assimilated in the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) system and the NASA Data Assimilation Office system, forecasts of the geopotential height for the Arctic, the Northern Hemisphere extratropics, and the Antarctic are improved significantly.

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Research Program: 
Radiation Science Program (RSP)