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Estimation of Tropospheric Temperature Trends from MSU Channels 2 and 4

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  • 1 Earth System Science Center, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama
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Abstract

The problems inherent in the estimation of global tropospheric temperature trends from a combination of near-nadir Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) channel-2 and -4 data are described. The authors show that insufficient overlap between those two channels’ weighting functions prevents a physical removal of the stratospheric influence on tropospheric channel 2 from the stratospheric channel 4. Instead, correlations between stratospheric and tropospheric temperature fluctuations based upon ancillary (e.g., radiosonde) information can be used to statistically estimate a correction for the stratospheric influence on MSU 2 from MSU 4. Fu et al. developed such a regression relationship from radiosonde data using the 850–300-hPa layer as the target predictand. There are large errors in the resulting fit of the two MSU channels to the tropospheric target layer, so the correlations from the ancillary data must be relied upon to provide a statistical minimization of the resulting errors. Such relationships depend upon the accuracy of the particular training dataset as well as the dataset time period and its global representativeness (i.e., temporal and spatial stationarity of the statistics). It is concluded that near-nadir MSU channels 2 and 4 cannot be combined to provide a tropospheric temperature measure without substantial uncertainty resulting from a necessary dependence on ancillary information regarding the vertical profile of temperature variations, which are, in general, not well known on a global basis.

Corresponding author address: Roy W. Spencer, University of Alabama in Huntsville, 320 Sparkman Dr., Huntsville, AL 35805. Email: roy.spencer@nsstc.uah.edu

Abstract

The problems inherent in the estimation of global tropospheric temperature trends from a combination of near-nadir Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) channel-2 and -4 data are described. The authors show that insufficient overlap between those two channels’ weighting functions prevents a physical removal of the stratospheric influence on tropospheric channel 2 from the stratospheric channel 4. Instead, correlations between stratospheric and tropospheric temperature fluctuations based upon ancillary (e.g., radiosonde) information can be used to statistically estimate a correction for the stratospheric influence on MSU 2 from MSU 4. Fu et al. developed such a regression relationship from radiosonde data using the 850–300-hPa layer as the target predictand. There are large errors in the resulting fit of the two MSU channels to the tropospheric target layer, so the correlations from the ancillary data must be relied upon to provide a statistical minimization of the resulting errors. Such relationships depend upon the accuracy of the particular training dataset as well as the dataset time period and its global representativeness (i.e., temporal and spatial stationarity of the statistics). It is concluded that near-nadir MSU channels 2 and 4 cannot be combined to provide a tropospheric temperature measure without substantial uncertainty resulting from a necessary dependence on ancillary information regarding the vertical profile of temperature variations, which are, in general, not well known on a global basis.

Corresponding author address: Roy W. Spencer, University of Alabama in Huntsville, 320 Sparkman Dr., Huntsville, AL 35805. Email: roy.spencer@nsstc.uah.edu

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