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A Satellite Study of the Relationship between Sea Surface Temperature and Column Water Vapor over Tropical and Subtropical Oceans

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  • 1 Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
  • | 2 Hydrospheric Atmospheric Research Center, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
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Abstract

The known characteristics of the relationship between sea surface temperature (SST) and column water vapor (CWV) are reevaluated with recent satellite observations over tropical and subtropical oceans. Satellite data acquired by the Aqua Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System (AMSR-E), Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS)/Advanced Microwave Sounder Unit (AMSU) suite, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR), and the Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) SeaWinds are analyzed together for 7 years from October 2002 to September 2009. CWV is decomposed into surface humidity, presumably coupled closely to SST, and the water vapor scale height as an index of vertical moisture gradient between the boundary layer and the free troposphere. Surface relative humidity is climatologically homogeneous across tropical and subtropical oceans, while the dependence of CWV on SST varies from one region to another. SST mainly accounts for the variation of CWV with the water vapor scale height, which is virtually invariant over subtropical oceans. On the other hand, over tropical oceans, the variability of CWV is explained not only by SST but also by a systematic change of the water vapor scale height. The regional contrast between tropical and subtropical oceans is discussed in the context of the regional moisture budget including vertical moisture transport through convection.

Corresponding author address: Kaya Kanemaru, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan. E-mail: kanemaru@satellite.hyarc.nagoya-u.ac.jp

Abstract

The known characteristics of the relationship between sea surface temperature (SST) and column water vapor (CWV) are reevaluated with recent satellite observations over tropical and subtropical oceans. Satellite data acquired by the Aqua Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for Earth Observing System (AMSR-E), Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS)/Advanced Microwave Sounder Unit (AMSU) suite, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR), and the Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) SeaWinds are analyzed together for 7 years from October 2002 to September 2009. CWV is decomposed into surface humidity, presumably coupled closely to SST, and the water vapor scale height as an index of vertical moisture gradient between the boundary layer and the free troposphere. Surface relative humidity is climatologically homogeneous across tropical and subtropical oceans, while the dependence of CWV on SST varies from one region to another. SST mainly accounts for the variation of CWV with the water vapor scale height, which is virtually invariant over subtropical oceans. On the other hand, over tropical oceans, the variability of CWV is explained not only by SST but also by a systematic change of the water vapor scale height. The regional contrast between tropical and subtropical oceans is discussed in the context of the regional moisture budget including vertical moisture transport through convection.

Corresponding author address: Kaya Kanemaru, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan. E-mail: kanemaru@satellite.hyarc.nagoya-u.ac.jp
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