Estimating Effective Data Density in a Satellite Retrieval or an Objective Analysis

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  • 1 Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
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Abstract

An attempt is made to formulate consistent objective definitions of the concept of “effective data density” applicable both in the context of satellite soundings more generally in objective data analysis. The definitions based upon various forms of Backus-Gilbert “spread” functions are found to be seriously misleading in satellite soundings where the model resolution function (expressing the sensitivity of retrieval or analysis to changes in the background error) features sidelobes. Instead, estimates derived by smoothing the trace components of the model resolution function are proposed. The new estimates are found to be more reliable and informative in simulated satellite retrieval problems and, for the special case of uniformly spaced perfect observations, agree exactly with their actual density. The new estimates integrate to the “degrees of freedom for signal,” a diagnostic that is invariant to changes of units or coordinates used.

Abstract

An attempt is made to formulate consistent objective definitions of the concept of “effective data density” applicable both in the context of satellite soundings more generally in objective data analysis. The definitions based upon various forms of Backus-Gilbert “spread” functions are found to be seriously misleading in satellite soundings where the model resolution function (expressing the sensitivity of retrieval or analysis to changes in the background error) features sidelobes. Instead, estimates derived by smoothing the trace components of the model resolution function are proposed. The new estimates are found to be more reliable and informative in simulated satellite retrieval problems and, for the special case of uniformly spaced perfect observations, agree exactly with their actual density. The new estimates integrate to the “degrees of freedom for signal,” a diagnostic that is invariant to changes of units or coordinates used.

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