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Comparison of Spectrally Resolved Outgoing Longwave Radiation over the Tropical Pacific between 1970 and 2003 Using IRIS, IMG, and AIRS

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  • 1 Space and Atmospheric Physics, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
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Abstract

The observation of changes in the earth’s spectrally resolved outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) provides a direct method of determining changes in the radiative forcing of the climate system. An earlier study showed that satellite-observed changes in the clear-sky outgoing longwave spectrum between 1997 and 1970 from the Infrared Interferometer Spectrometer (IRIS) and Interferometic Monitor of Greenhouse Gases (IMG) instruments could be related to changes in greenhouse gas composition. The authors present a new study that extends this to 2003, through the first use of a new, independent source of global atmospheric infrared spectra, from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) experiment. AIRS is a dispersion grating spectrometer, while the other two were Fourier transform spectrometers, and this is taken into account in the analysis. The observed difference spectrum between the years 2003 and 1970 generally shows the signatures of greenhouse gas forcing, and also shows the sensitivity of the signatures to interannual variations in temperature. The new 2003 data support the conclusions found in the earlier work, though, interestingly, the methane (CH4) Q branch centered at 1304 cm−1 exhibits more complex behavior, showing a decrease in intensity in the difference spectrum between 1997 and 2003. Sensitivity analysis indicates that this is due to changes in temperature structure, superposed on an underlying increase in CH4. Radiative transfer calculations based on reanalysis data are used to simulate the changes in the OLR spectrum; limitations in such data and possible variations that could account for several observed effects are discussed.

* Current affiliation: Bristol Glaciology Centre, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom

Corresponding author address: Dr. J. A. Griggs, Bristol Glaciology Centre, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1SS, United Kingdom. Email: j.griggs@bristol.ac.uk

Abstract

The observation of changes in the earth’s spectrally resolved outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) provides a direct method of determining changes in the radiative forcing of the climate system. An earlier study showed that satellite-observed changes in the clear-sky outgoing longwave spectrum between 1997 and 1970 from the Infrared Interferometer Spectrometer (IRIS) and Interferometic Monitor of Greenhouse Gases (IMG) instruments could be related to changes in greenhouse gas composition. The authors present a new study that extends this to 2003, through the first use of a new, independent source of global atmospheric infrared spectra, from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) experiment. AIRS is a dispersion grating spectrometer, while the other two were Fourier transform spectrometers, and this is taken into account in the analysis. The observed difference spectrum between the years 2003 and 1970 generally shows the signatures of greenhouse gas forcing, and also shows the sensitivity of the signatures to interannual variations in temperature. The new 2003 data support the conclusions found in the earlier work, though, interestingly, the methane (CH4) Q branch centered at 1304 cm−1 exhibits more complex behavior, showing a decrease in intensity in the difference spectrum between 1997 and 2003. Sensitivity analysis indicates that this is due to changes in temperature structure, superposed on an underlying increase in CH4. Radiative transfer calculations based on reanalysis data are used to simulate the changes in the OLR spectrum; limitations in such data and possible variations that could account for several observed effects are discussed.

* Current affiliation: Bristol Glaciology Centre, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom

Corresponding author address: Dr. J. A. Griggs, Bristol Glaciology Centre, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1SS, United Kingdom. Email: j.griggs@bristol.ac.uk

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