From 1979 to present, sensors aboard the NOAA series of polar meteorological satellites have provided continuous measurements of the earth's surface and atmosphere. One of these sensors, the TIROS-N Operational Vertical Sounder (TOVS), observes earth-emitted radiation in 27 wavelength bands within the infrared and microwave portions of the spectrum, thereby creating a valuable resource for studying the climate of our planet. The NOAA–NASA Pathfinder program was conceived to make these data more readily accessible to the community in the form of processed geophysical variables. The Atmospheric Radiation Analysis group at the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique of France was selected to process TOVS data into climate products (Path-B). The Improved Initialization Inversion (3I) retrieval algorithm is used to compute these products from the satellite-observed radiances. The processing technique ensures internal coherence and minimizes both observational and computational biases. Products are at a 1° × 1° latitude–longitude grid and include atmospheric temperature profiles (up to 10 hPa); total precipitable water vapor and content above four levels up to 300 hPa; surface skin temperature; and cloud properties (amount, type, and cloud-top pressure and temperature). The information is archived as 1-day, 5-day, and monthly means on the entire globe; a.m. and p.m. products for each satellite are stored separately. Eight years have been processed to date, and processing continues at the rate of approximately two satellite-months per day of computer time. Quality assessment studies are presented. They consist of comparisons to conventional meteorological data and to other remote sensing datasets.

This content is only available as a PDF.


*Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique du CNRS, Palaiseau, France.

+Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

#Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France.

@Current affiliation: Laboratoire d'Aérologie, Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées, Toulouse, France.

&Current affiliation: ECMWF, Shinfield Park, Berkshire, United Kingdom.