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  • Author or Editor: Carl A. Mears x
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Carl A. Mears
and
Frank J. Wentz

Abstract

Measurements made by microwave sounding instruments provide a multidecadal record of atmospheric temperature in several thick atmospheric layers. Satellite measurements began in late 1978 with the launch of the first Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) and have continued to the present via the use of measurements from the follow-on series of instruments, the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU). The weighting function for MSU channel 2 is centered in the middle troposphere but contains significant weight in the lower stratosphere. To obtain an estimate of tropospheric temperature change that is free from stratospheric effects, a weighted average of MSU channel 2 measurements made at different local zenith angles is used to extrapolate the measurements toward the surface, which results in a measurement of changes in the lower troposphere. In this paper, a description is provided of methods that were used to extend the MSU method to the newer AMSU channel 5 measurements and to intercalibrate the results from the different types of satellites. Then, satellite measurements are compared to results from homogenized radiosonde datasets. The results are found to be in excellent agreement with the radiosonde results in the northern extratropics, where the majority of the radiosonde stations are located.

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Carl A. Mears
and
Frank J. Wentz

Abstract

Measurements made by microwave sounding instruments provide a multidecadal record of atmospheric temperature change. Measurements began in late 1978 with the launch of the first Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) and continue to the present. In 1998, the first of the follow-on series of instruments—the Advanced Microwave Sounding Units (AMSUs)—was launched. To continue the atmospheric temperature record past 2004, when measurements from the last MSU instrument degraded in quality, AMSU and MSU measurements must be intercalibrated and combined to extend the atmospheric temperature data records. Calibration methods are described for three MSU–AMSU channels that measure the temperature of thick layers of the atmosphere centered in the middle troposphere, near the tropopause, and in the lower stratosphere. Some features of the resulting datasets are briefly summarized.

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