Characterizing Channel Center Frequencies in AMSU-A and MSU Microwave Sounding Instruments

Qifeng Lu National Satellite Meteorological Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China

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William Bell ECMWF, Reading, United Kingdom

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Abstract

Passive microwave observations from the Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) and the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-A (AMSU-A) have been exploited widely for numerical weather prediction (NWP), atmospheric reanalyses, and climate monitoring studies. The treatment of biases in these observations, with respect to models as well as between satellites, has been the focus of much effort in recent years. This study presents evidence that shifts, drifts, and uncertainties in pass band center frequencies are a significant contribution to these biases. Center frequencies for AMSU-A channels 6–14 and MSU channel 3 have been analyzed using NWP fields and radiative transfer models, for a series of operational satellites covering the period 1979–2012. AMSU-A channels 6 (54.40 GHz), 7 (54.94 GHz), and 8 (55.50 GHz) on several satellites exhibit significant shifts and drifts relative to nominal pass band center frequencies. No significant shifts were found for AMSU-A channels 9–14, most probably as a consequence of the active frequency locking of these channels. For MSU channel 3 (54.96 GHz) most satellites exhibit large shifts, the largest for the earliest satellites. For example, for the first MSU on the Television and Infrared Observation Satellite-N (TIROS-N), the analyzed shift is 68 MHz over the lifetime of the satellite. Taking these shifts into account in the radiative transfer modeling significantly improves the fit between model and observations, eliminates the strong seasonal cycle in the model–observation misfit, and significantly improves the bias between NWP models and observations. The study suggests that, for several channels studied, the dominant component of the model–observation bias results from these spectral errors, rather than radiometric bias due to calibration errors.

Corresponding author address: Qifeng Lu, National Satellite Meteorological Center, China Meteorological Administration, 46 Zhongguncun South Street, Haidian District, Beijing 100081, China. E-mail: luqf@cma.gov.cn

Abstract

Passive microwave observations from the Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) and the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-A (AMSU-A) have been exploited widely for numerical weather prediction (NWP), atmospheric reanalyses, and climate monitoring studies. The treatment of biases in these observations, with respect to models as well as between satellites, has been the focus of much effort in recent years. This study presents evidence that shifts, drifts, and uncertainties in pass band center frequencies are a significant contribution to these biases. Center frequencies for AMSU-A channels 6–14 and MSU channel 3 have been analyzed using NWP fields and radiative transfer models, for a series of operational satellites covering the period 1979–2012. AMSU-A channels 6 (54.40 GHz), 7 (54.94 GHz), and 8 (55.50 GHz) on several satellites exhibit significant shifts and drifts relative to nominal pass band center frequencies. No significant shifts were found for AMSU-A channels 9–14, most probably as a consequence of the active frequency locking of these channels. For MSU channel 3 (54.96 GHz) most satellites exhibit large shifts, the largest for the earliest satellites. For example, for the first MSU on the Television and Infrared Observation Satellite-N (TIROS-N), the analyzed shift is 68 MHz over the lifetime of the satellite. Taking these shifts into account in the radiative transfer modeling significantly improves the fit between model and observations, eliminates the strong seasonal cycle in the model–observation misfit, and significantly improves the bias between NWP models and observations. The study suggests that, for several channels studied, the dominant component of the model–observation bias results from these spectral errors, rather than radiometric bias due to calibration errors.

Corresponding author address: Qifeng Lu, National Satellite Meteorological Center, China Meteorological Administration, 46 Zhongguncun South Street, Haidian District, Beijing 100081, China. E-mail: luqf@cma.gov.cn
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