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Jacques Stum


Nadir-looking microwave radiometers are flown on altimeter missions to correct the altimeter range for water vapor path delay. This paper describes a technique to intercalibrate the brightness temperatures of the ERS-1 and ERS-2 microwave radiometers by using the TOPEX radiometer as a common reference. The technique is based on the analysis of radiometer measurements made at crossover points between TOPEX, ERS-1, and ERS-2 orbits with less than 1-h time lags. This provides about 1000 comparison points within 4 months and covers most atmospheric and oceanic states. It is shown first that the ERS-2 radiometer brightness temperatures need to be corrected to make them consistent with ERS-1 and thus to ensure the homogeneity of the series of ERS altimeter data. The accuracy of the method is then estimated from the results of a 3-yr TOPEX/ERS-1 data comparison and is shown to be about 0.2 K for the ERS-2 23.8-GHz channel and about 0.4 K for the 36.5-GHz channel. This 3-yr comparison also shows a −1 mm yr−1 drift in the (TOPEX/ERS-1) water vapor path delay difference, which needs to be confirmed with a longer time series. This technique could be used for the calibration of future radiometers placed in similar orbital configurations, such as the one to be flown on ENVISAT (relative to ERS-2 and using TOPEX or JASON as a reference).

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