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A Sampling Method for Quantifying the Information Content of IASI Channels

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  • 1 National Centre for Earth Observation and Data Assimilation Research Centre, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom
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Abstract

There is a vast amount of information about the atmosphere available from instruments on board satellites. One example is the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) instrument, which measures radiances emitted from Earth’s atmosphere and surface in 8461 channels. It is difficult to transmit, store, and assimilate such a large amount of data. A practical solution to this has been to select a subset of a few hundred channels based on those that contain the most useful information.

Different measures of information content for objective channel selection have been suggested for application to variational data assimilation. These include mutual information and the degrees of freedom for signal. To date, the calculation of these measures of information content has been based on the linear theory that is at the heart of operational variational data assimilation. However, the retrieval of information about the atmosphere from the satellite radiances can be highly nonlinear.

Here, a sampling method for calculating the mutual information that is free from assumptions about the linearity of the relationship between the observed radiances and the state variables is examined. It is found that large linearization errors can indeed lead to large discrepancies in the value of mutual information. How this new estimate of information content can be used in channel selection is addressed, with particular attention given to the efficiency of the new method. It is anticipated that accounting for the nonlinearity in the channel selection will be beneficial when using nonlinear data assimilation methods currently in development.

Denotes content that is immediately available upon publication as open access.

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

© 2017 American Meteorological Society

Corresponding author e-mail: Alison Margaret Fowler, a.m.fowler@reading.ac.uk

Abstract

There is a vast amount of information about the atmosphere available from instruments on board satellites. One example is the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) instrument, which measures radiances emitted from Earth’s atmosphere and surface in 8461 channels. It is difficult to transmit, store, and assimilate such a large amount of data. A practical solution to this has been to select a subset of a few hundred channels based on those that contain the most useful information.

Different measures of information content for objective channel selection have been suggested for application to variational data assimilation. These include mutual information and the degrees of freedom for signal. To date, the calculation of these measures of information content has been based on the linear theory that is at the heart of operational variational data assimilation. However, the retrieval of information about the atmosphere from the satellite radiances can be highly nonlinear.

Here, a sampling method for calculating the mutual information that is free from assumptions about the linearity of the relationship between the observed radiances and the state variables is examined. It is found that large linearization errors can indeed lead to large discrepancies in the value of mutual information. How this new estimate of information content can be used in channel selection is addressed, with particular attention given to the efficiency of the new method. It is anticipated that accounting for the nonlinearity in the channel selection will be beneficial when using nonlinear data assimilation methods currently in development.

Denotes content that is immediately available upon publication as open access.

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

© 2017 American Meteorological Society

Corresponding author e-mail: Alison Margaret Fowler, a.m.fowler@reading.ac.uk
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