Optimized Retrievals of Precipitable Water from the VAS “Split Window”

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  • 1 Laboratory for Atmospheres, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771
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Abstract

Precipitable water fields have been retrieved from the VISSR Atmospheric Sounder (VAS) using a radiation transfer model for the differential water vapor absorption between the 11 and 12 μm “split window” channels. Previous moisture retrievals using only the split window channels provided very good space-time continuity but poor absolute accuracy. This note describes how retrieval errors can be significantly reduced from ±0.9 to ±0.6 gm cm−2 by empirically optimizing the effective air temperature and absorption coefficients used in the two-channel model. The differential absorption between the VAS 11 and 12 μm channels, empirically estimated from 135 colocated VAS-RAOB observations, is found to be approximately 50% smaller than the theoretical estimates. Similar discrepancies have been noted previously between theoretical and empirical absorption coefficients applied to the retrieval of sea surface temperatures using radiances observed by VAS and polar-orbiting satellites. These discrepancies indicate that radiation transfer models for the 11 μm window appear to be less accurate than the satellite observations.

Abstract

Precipitable water fields have been retrieved from the VISSR Atmospheric Sounder (VAS) using a radiation transfer model for the differential water vapor absorption between the 11 and 12 μm “split window” channels. Previous moisture retrievals using only the split window channels provided very good space-time continuity but poor absolute accuracy. This note describes how retrieval errors can be significantly reduced from ±0.9 to ±0.6 gm cm−2 by empirically optimizing the effective air temperature and absorption coefficients used in the two-channel model. The differential absorption between the VAS 11 and 12 μm channels, empirically estimated from 135 colocated VAS-RAOB observations, is found to be approximately 50% smaller than the theoretical estimates. Similar discrepancies have been noted previously between theoretical and empirical absorption coefficients applied to the retrieval of sea surface temperatures using radiances observed by VAS and polar-orbiting satellites. These discrepancies indicate that radiation transfer models for the 11 μm window appear to be less accurate than the satellite observations.

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