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Intercalibrating microwave satellite observations for monitoring long-term...

Chung, E., B. Soden, and V. O. John (2013), Intercalibrating microwave satellite observations for monitoring long-term variations in upper and mid-tropospheric water vapor, J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol., 30, 2303-2319, doi:10.1175/JTECH-D-13-00001.1.

This paper analyzes the growing archive of 183-GHz water vapor absorption band measurements from the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit B (AMSU-B) and Microwave Humidity Sounder (MHS) on board polar-orbiting satellites and document adjustments necessary to use the data for long-term climate monitoring. The water vapor channels located at 183.31 ± 1 GHz and 183.31 ± 3 GHz are sensitive to upper- and midtropospheric relative humidity and less prone to the clear-sky sampling bias than infrared measurements, making them a valuable but underutilized source of information on free-tropospheric water vapor. A method for the limb correction of the satellite viewing angle based upon a simplified model of radiative transfer is introduced to remove the scan angle dependence of the radiances. Biases due to the difference in local observation time between satellites and spurious trends associated with satellite orbital drift are then diagnosed and adjusted for using synthetic radiative simulations based on the Interim European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Re-Analysis (ERA-Interim). The adjusted, cloud-filtered, and limb-corrected brightness temperatures are then intercalibrated using zonal-mean brightness temperature differences. It is found that these correction procedures significantly improve consistency and quantitative agreement between microwave radiometric satellite observations that can be used to monitor upper- and midtropospheric water vapor. The resulting radiances are converted to estimates of the deep-layer-mean upper- and midtropospheric relative humidity, and can be used to evaluate trends in upper-tropospheric relative humidity from reanalysis datasets and coupled ocean–atmosphere models.

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Radiation Science Program (RSP)