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Feng Ding
Andrey Savtchenko
Thomas Hearty
Jennifer Wei
Michael Theobald
Bruce Vollmer
Baijun Tian
, and
Eric Fetzer


The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on board NASA’s Aqua satellite provides more than 16 years of data. Its monthly gridded (Level 3) product has been widely used for climate research and applications. Since counts of successful soundings in a grid cell are used to derive monthly averages, this averaged by observations (ABO) approach effectively gives equal importance to all participating soundings within a month. It is conceivable then that days with more observations due to day-to-day orbit shift and regimes with better retrieval skills will contribute disproportionately to the monthly average within a cell. Alternatively, the AIRS Level 3 monthly product can be produced through an averaged by days (ABD) approach, where the monthly mean in a grid cell is a simple average of the daily means. The effects of these averaging methods on the AIRS version 6 monthly product are assessed quantitatively using temperature and water vapor at the surface and 500 hPa. The ABO method results in a warmer (slightly colder) global mean temperature at the surface (500 hPa) and a drier global mean water vapor than ABD method. The AIRS multiyear monthly mean temperature and water vapor from both methods are also compared with the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications version 2 (MERRA-2) product and evaluated with a simulation experiment, indicating the ABD method has lower error and is more closely correlated with MERRA-2. In summary, the ABD method is recommended for future versions of the AIRS Level 3 monthly product and more data services supporting Level 3 aggregation are needed.

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