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A Bias in the Midtropospheric Channel Warm Target Factor on the NOAA-9 Microwave Sounding Unit

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
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Abstract

The University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH), Remote Sensing Systems (RSS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have constructed long-term temperature records for deep atmospheric layers using satellite Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) and Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) observations. However, these groups disagree on the magnitude of global temperature trends since 1979, including the trend for the midtropospheric layer (TMT). This study evaluates the selection of the MSU TMT warm target factor for the NOAA-9 satellite using five homogenized radiosonde products as references. The analysis reveals that the UAH TMT product has a positive bias of 0.051 ± 0.031 in the warm target factor that artificially reduces the global TMT trend by 0.042 K decade−1 for 1979–2009. Accounting for this bias increases the global UAH TMT trend from 0.038 to 0.080 K decade−1, effectively eliminating the trend difference between UAH and RSS and decreasing the trend difference between UAH and NOAA by 47%. This warm target factor bias directly affects the UAH lower tropospheric (TLT) product and tropospheric temperature trends derived from a combination of TMT and lower stratospheric (TLS) channels.

Corresponding author address: Stephen Po-Chedley, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Box 351640, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195. E-mail: pochedls@uw.edu

A comment/reply has been published regarding this article and can be found at http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JTECH-D-12-00107.1 and http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JTECH-D-12-00131.1

Abstract

The University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH), Remote Sensing Systems (RSS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have constructed long-term temperature records for deep atmospheric layers using satellite Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) and Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) observations. However, these groups disagree on the magnitude of global temperature trends since 1979, including the trend for the midtropospheric layer (TMT). This study evaluates the selection of the MSU TMT warm target factor for the NOAA-9 satellite using five homogenized radiosonde products as references. The analysis reveals that the UAH TMT product has a positive bias of 0.051 ± 0.031 in the warm target factor that artificially reduces the global TMT trend by 0.042 K decade−1 for 1979–2009. Accounting for this bias increases the global UAH TMT trend from 0.038 to 0.080 K decade−1, effectively eliminating the trend difference between UAH and RSS and decreasing the trend difference between UAH and NOAA by 47%. This warm target factor bias directly affects the UAH lower tropospheric (TLT) product and tropospheric temperature trends derived from a combination of TMT and lower stratospheric (TLS) channels.

Corresponding author address: Stephen Po-Chedley, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Box 351640, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195. E-mail: pochedls@uw.edu

A comment/reply has been published regarding this article and can be found at http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JTECH-D-12-00107.1 and http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JTECH-D-12-00131.1

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