Temperature–Moisture Biases in ECMWF Analyses Based on Clear Sky Longwave Simulations Constrained by SSMI and MSU Measurements and Comparisons to ERBE Estimates

Byung-Ju Sohn Institute for Global Change Research and Education. NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama

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Abstract

Clear sky longwave radiation fluxes for the summer of 1988 and winter of 1989 have been simulated with a radiative transfer model that includes detailed treatment of atmospheric gas absorption. The input data to the model are humidity and temperature profiles from ECMWF analyses and surface temperature measurements from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project. To reduce the inherent uncertainties in humidity profiles, the ECMWF moisture fields have been adjusted, based on the climatological relationship between the moisture profile and total precipitable water (PW), so that the ECMWF PW is equal to that derived from Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSMI) data. SSMI and ECMWF PW patterns are generally similar, but significant differences in magnitude are found in the low latitudes, particularly over the subtropical oceans in the Southern Hemisphere. At the same time the tropospheric brightness temperature (TB) at 53.74 GHz has been computed using a microwave transfer model with ECMWF temperature and humidity fields as inputs. The comparison of computed TB with the Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) channel 2 TB revealed differences larger than 1.5 K over most of the oceans, suggesting that the ECMWF model atmosphere has a cold bias. Maximum biases greater than 3 K are found in low latitudes. After removing the bias from the ECMWF temperature field, a new set of temperature profiles yielding brightness temperature equal to MSU channel 2 TB has been obtained. Simulation results clearly demonstrate that inclusion of satellite estimates of PW and TB enhances the accuracy of the clear sky LW flux simulation, substantially reducing the differences from Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) estimates. Global averages indicate that the model-derived top-of-atmosphere (TOA) clear sky fluxes from the adjusted moisture and temperature profiles are in very good agreement with satellite-measured ERBE values, differing by only 1.4 W m−2. By contrast, the calculation using only ECMWF analyses without any adjustments gives a significant underestimation of TOA clear sky fluxes up to 10.7 W m−2 compared to the satellite measurements, suggesting that the constraint method can significantly improve the accuracy in the radiation budget simulation. The results also indicate that the ECMWF-based simulation errors are, at least for the two seasons studied, mainly attributed to the error in the temperature field rather than to errors in the moisture field.

Abstract

Clear sky longwave radiation fluxes for the summer of 1988 and winter of 1989 have been simulated with a radiative transfer model that includes detailed treatment of atmospheric gas absorption. The input data to the model are humidity and temperature profiles from ECMWF analyses and surface temperature measurements from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project. To reduce the inherent uncertainties in humidity profiles, the ECMWF moisture fields have been adjusted, based on the climatological relationship between the moisture profile and total precipitable water (PW), so that the ECMWF PW is equal to that derived from Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSMI) data. SSMI and ECMWF PW patterns are generally similar, but significant differences in magnitude are found in the low latitudes, particularly over the subtropical oceans in the Southern Hemisphere. At the same time the tropospheric brightness temperature (TB) at 53.74 GHz has been computed using a microwave transfer model with ECMWF temperature and humidity fields as inputs. The comparison of computed TB with the Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) channel 2 TB revealed differences larger than 1.5 K over most of the oceans, suggesting that the ECMWF model atmosphere has a cold bias. Maximum biases greater than 3 K are found in low latitudes. After removing the bias from the ECMWF temperature field, a new set of temperature profiles yielding brightness temperature equal to MSU channel 2 TB has been obtained. Simulation results clearly demonstrate that inclusion of satellite estimates of PW and TB enhances the accuracy of the clear sky LW flux simulation, substantially reducing the differences from Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) estimates. Global averages indicate that the model-derived top-of-atmosphere (TOA) clear sky fluxes from the adjusted moisture and temperature profiles are in very good agreement with satellite-measured ERBE values, differing by only 1.4 W m−2. By contrast, the calculation using only ECMWF analyses without any adjustments gives a significant underestimation of TOA clear sky fluxes up to 10.7 W m−2 compared to the satellite measurements, suggesting that the constraint method can significantly improve the accuracy in the radiation budget simulation. The results also indicate that the ECMWF-based simulation errors are, at least for the two seasons studied, mainly attributed to the error in the temperature field rather than to errors in the moisture field.

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