Sensitivity of Satellite-Derived Tropospheric Temperature Trends to the Diurnal Cycle Adjustment

Carl A. Mears Remote Sensing Systems, Santa Rosa, California

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Frank J. Wentz Remote Sensing Systems, Santa Rosa, California

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Abstract

Temperature sounding microwave radiometers flown on polar-orbiting weather satellites provide a long-term, global-scale record of upper-atmosphere temperatures, beginning in late 1978 and continuing to the present. The focus of this paper is the midtropospheric measurements made by the Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) channel 2 and the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) channel 5. Previous versions of the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) dataset have used a diurnal climatology derived from general circulation model output to remove the effects of drifting local measurement time. This paper presents evidence that this previous method is not sufficiently accurate and presents several alternative methods to optimize these adjustments using information from the satellite measurements themselves. These are used to construct a number of candidate climate data records using measurements from 15 MSU and AMSU satellites. The new methods result in improved agreement between measurements made by different satellites at the same time. A method is chosen based on an optimized second harmonic adjustment to produce a new version of the RSS dataset, version 4.0. The new dataset shows substantially increased global-scale warming relative to the previous version of the dataset, particularly after 1998. The new dataset shows more warming than most other midtropospheric data records constructed from the same set of satellites. It is also shown that the new dataset is consistent with long-term changes in total column water vapor over the tropical oceans, lending support to its long-term accuracy.

Denotes Open Access content.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0744.s1.

Corresponding author address: Carl A. Mears, Remote Sensing Systems, 444 Tenth Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401. E-mail: mears@remss.com

Abstract

Temperature sounding microwave radiometers flown on polar-orbiting weather satellites provide a long-term, global-scale record of upper-atmosphere temperatures, beginning in late 1978 and continuing to the present. The focus of this paper is the midtropospheric measurements made by the Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) channel 2 and the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) channel 5. Previous versions of the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) dataset have used a diurnal climatology derived from general circulation model output to remove the effects of drifting local measurement time. This paper presents evidence that this previous method is not sufficiently accurate and presents several alternative methods to optimize these adjustments using information from the satellite measurements themselves. These are used to construct a number of candidate climate data records using measurements from 15 MSU and AMSU satellites. The new methods result in improved agreement between measurements made by different satellites at the same time. A method is chosen based on an optimized second harmonic adjustment to produce a new version of the RSS dataset, version 4.0. The new dataset shows substantially increased global-scale warming relative to the previous version of the dataset, particularly after 1998. The new dataset shows more warming than most other midtropospheric data records constructed from the same set of satellites. It is also shown that the new dataset is consistent with long-term changes in total column water vapor over the tropical oceans, lending support to its long-term accuracy.

Denotes Open Access content.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0744.s1.

Corresponding author address: Carl A. Mears, Remote Sensing Systems, 444 Tenth Street, Santa Rosa, CA 95401. E-mail: mears@remss.com

Supplementary Materials

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