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John R. Christy
,
Roy W. Spencer
, and
Elena S. Lobl

Abstract

The merging procedure utilized to generate homogeneous time series of three deep-layer atmospheric temperature products from the nine microwave sounding units (MSUs) is described. A critically important aspect in the process is determining and removing the bias each instrument possesses relative to a common base (here being NOAA-6). Special attention is given to the lower-tropospheric layer and the calculation of the bias of the NOAA-9 MSU and its rather considerable impact on the trend of the overall time series. We show that the bias is best calculated by a direct comparison between NOAA-6 and NOAA-9, though there other possible methods available, and is determined to be +0.50°C. Spurious variations of individual MSUs due to orbital drift and/or cyclic variations tied to the annual cycle are also identified and eliminated. In general, intersatellite biases for the three instruments that form the backbone of the time series (MSUs on NOAA-6, -10 and -12) are known to within 0.01°C.

After slight modifications in the treatment of the bias, drift-error, and cyclic fluctuations, the authors produced a time series in which the decadal trend is +0.03°C warmer than previously reported for the lower troposphere. Because they are of much higher precision, the midtropospheric and lower-stratospheric products are only slightly affected by alterations to procedures applied in this study.

Recent suggestions that spurious jumps were present in the lower-tropospheric time series of earlier versions of the MSU data based on SST comparisons are addressed. Using independent comparisons of different satellites, radiosondes, and night marine air temperatures, no indication is found of the presence of these “spurious” jumps.

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Roy W. Spencer
,
Frank J. LaFontaine
,
Thomas DeFelice
, and
Frank J. Wentz

Abstract

Passive microwave channels like those flown on the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) contain two primary types of information on oceanic precipitation: condensate below the freezing level and precipitation-size condensate above the freezing level. The authors explore the question of whether these two separate pieces of information might contain insight into climate processes during a perturbation in the climate system. In particular, the relative fluctuations of rain and ice signals could be related to precipitation efficiency, an important determinant of the equilibrium climate, and thus a potential feedback mechanism in climate change. As an example of this potential application, SSM/I-derived liquid and frozen precipitation signals are used to infer changes in tropical oceanic precipitation characteristics during the cool period following the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo. The need for an assessment of the temperature sensitivity of precipitation-retrieval algorithms is also discussed.

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Gary McGaughey
,
Edward J. Zipser
,
Roy W. Spencer
, and
Robbie E. Hood

Abstract

This paper presents high-resolution passive microwave measurements obtained in the western Pacific warm pool region. These measurements represent the most comprehensive such observations of convection over the tropical oceans to date, and were obtained from the Advanced Microwave Precipitation Radiometer (AMPR) aboard the NASA ER-2 during the Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Response Experiment. The AMPR measures linearly polarized radiation at 10.7, 19.35, 37.1, and 85.5 GHZ.

Nadir brightness temperature scatterplots suggest that the three lower frequencies respond primarily to emission/absorption processes. Strong ice scattering is relatively rare, as absolute magnitudes of the ice-scattering signature do not approach those measured in strong convection over land. This is apparently related to the reported weaker updraft velocities over tropical oceans, which would create and suspend relatively smaller graupel or hail particles in the upper cloud. Observations within stratiform regions suggest that approximately 220 K is the minimum 85.5-GHz brightness temperature associated with ice scattering in regions of stratiform precipitation.

In agreement with other studies using high-resolution data, the relationships between data at the lower frequencies and the 85.5-GHz data exhibit considerable scatter. Traces through a hurricane eyewall and a squall line reveal the tilt of these convective systems away from the vertical. It is suggested that this observed tilt of convective lines is responsible, in part, for the finding that warm 10.7-GHz brightness temperatures (showing heavy rain at low levels) and cold 85.5-GHz brightness temperatures (showing large optical depth of ice particles aloft) are not consistently collocated. Observations of heavily raining clouds with little ice above or nearby are also presented, but it is shown that the heaviest rain rates are associated with ice scattering aloft.

The AMPR data are averaged to a 24-km resolution, in order to simulate a satellite footprint of that scale. Brightness temperature relationships become more linear, though the scatter is not significantly reduced. The effects of nonhomogeneous beamfilling are obvious. A description of brightness temperature variability within the simulated satellite footprint is also presented. Similar descriptions could be used to develop a beamfilling correction to increase the accuracy of microwave rain-rate retrievals over the tropical oceans.

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Roy W. Spencer
,
John R. Christy
,
William D. Braswell
, and
William B. Norris

Abstract

The problems inherent in the estimation of global tropospheric temperature trends from a combination of near-nadir Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) channel-2 and -4 data are described. The authors show that insufficient overlap between those two channels’ weighting functions prevents a physical removal of the stratospheric influence on tropospheric channel 2 from the stratospheric channel 4. Instead, correlations between stratospheric and tropospheric temperature fluctuations based upon ancillary (e.g., radiosonde) information can be used to statistically estimate a correction for the stratospheric influence on MSU 2 from MSU 4. Fu et al. developed such a regression relationship from radiosonde data using the 850–300-hPa layer as the target predictand. There are large errors in the resulting fit of the two MSU channels to the tropospheric target layer, so the correlations from the ancillary data must be relied upon to provide a statistical minimization of the resulting errors. Such relationships depend upon the accuracy of the particular training dataset as well as the dataset time period and its global representativeness (i.e., temporal and spatial stationarity of the statistics). It is concluded that near-nadir MSU channels 2 and 4 cannot be combined to provide a tropospheric temperature measure without substantial uncertainty resulting from a necessary dependence on ancillary information regarding the vertical profile of temperature variations, which are, in general, not well known on a global basis.

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John R. Christy
,
Roy W. Spencer
,
William B. Norris
,
William D. Braswell
, and
David E. Parker

Abstract

Deep-layer temperatures derived from satellite-borne microwave sensors since 1979 are revised (version 5.0) to account for 1) a change from microwave sounding units (MSUs) to the advanced MSUs (AMSUs) and 2) an improved diurnal drift adjustment for tropospheric products. AMSU data, beginning in 1998, show characteristics indistinguishable from the earlier MSU products. MSU–AMSU error estimates are calculated through comparisons with radiosonde-simulated bulk temperatures for the low–middle troposphere (TLT), midtroposphere (TMT), and lower stratosphere (TLS.) Monthly (annual) standard errors for global mean anomalies of TLT satellite temperatures are estimated at 0.10°C (0.07°C). The TLT (TMT) trend for January 1979 to April 2002 is estimated as +0.06° (+0.02°) ±0.05°C decade–1 (95% confidence interval). Error estimates for TLS temperatures are less well characterized due to significant heterogeneities in the radiosonde data at high altitudes, though evidence is presented to suggest that since 1979 the trend is −0.51° ± 0.10°C decade–1.

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Paul A. Hirschberg
,
Matthew C. Parke
,
Carlyle H. Wash
,
Mark Mickelinc
,
Roy W. Spencer
, and
Eric Thaler

Abstract

A statistical analysis is performed on a 6-month global dataset consisting of satellite-derived channel 3 Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU3) brightness temperature and various conventionally derived fields to quantify the potential usefulness of MSU3 analyses in the nowcasting and forecasting of baroclinic waves. High positive spatial and temporal correlations are obtained between the MSU3 brightness temperature and 400–100-mb thickness fields over all wavelengths in the data. Slightly lesser positive correlations are found between the MSU3 and the 200-mb temperature. The MSU3–500-mb and MSU3–50-mb height correlation results indicate a scale dependence in the hydrostatic spreading of thickness anomalies in the vertical. Most significantly, relatively high negative MSU3–500-mb height correlations for the short (≤ synoptic scale) wavelength portion of the data suggest that upper-level thermal anomalies are reflected downward and that MSU3 analyses can be used to track midlevel synoptic-scale baroclinic waves. This conclusion is also supported by relatively high negative MSU3–500-mb vorticity and MSU3–dynamic tropopause correlations along the climatological storm tracks.

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Roy W. Spencer
,
Robbie E. Hood
,
Frank J. Lafontaine
,
Eric A. Smith
,
Robert Platt
,
Joe Galliano
,
Vanessa L. Griffin
, and
Elena Lobl

Abstract

An Advanced Microwave Precipitation Radiometer (AMPR) has been developed and flown in the NASA ER-2 high-altitude aircraft for imaging various atmospheric and surface processes, primarily the internal structure of rain clouds. The AMPR is a scanning four-frequency total power microwave radiometer that is externally calibrated with high-emissivity warm and cold loads. Separate antenna systems allow the sampling of the 10.7- and 19.35-GHz channels at the same spatial resolution, while the 37.1- and 85.5-GHz channels utilize the same multifrequency feedhorn as the 19.35-GHz channel. Spatial resolutions from an aircraft altitude of 20-km range from 0.6 km at 85.5 GHz to 2.8 km at 19.35 and 10.7 GHz. All channels are sampled every 0.6 km in both along-track and cross-track directions, leading to a contiguous sampling pattern ofthe 85.5-GHz 3-dB beamwidth footprints, 2.3 × oversampling of the 37.1-GHz data, and 4.4 × oversampling of the 19.35- and 10.7-GHz data. Radiometer temperature sensitivities range from 0.2° to 0.5°C. Details of the system are described, including two different calibration systems and their effect on the data collected. Examples of oceanic rain systems are presented from Florida and the tropical west Pacific that illustrate the wide variety of cloud water, rainwater, and precipitation-size ice combinations that are observable from aircraft altitudes.

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