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B. Soden, S. Tjemkes, J. Schmetz, R. Saunders, J. Bates, B. Ellingson, R. Engelen, L. Garand, D. Jackson, G. Jedlovec, T. Kleespies, D. Randel, P. Rayer, E. Salathe, D. Schwarzkopf, N. Scott, B. Sohn, S. de Souza-Machado, L. Strow, D. Tobin, D. Turner, P. van Delst, and T. Wehr

An intercomparison of radiation codes used in retrieving upper-tropospheric humidity (UTH) from observations in the ν2 (6.3 μm) water vapor absorption band was performed. This intercomparison is one part of a coordinated effort within the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment Water Vapor Project to assess our ability to monitor the distribution and variations of upper-tropospheric moisture from spaceborne sensors. A total of 23 different codes, ranging from detailed line-by-line (LBL) models, to coarser-resolution narrowband (NB) models, to highly parameterized single-band (SB) models participated in the study. Forward calculations were performed using a carefully selected set of temperature and moisture profiles chosen to be representative of a wide range of atmospheric conditions. The LBL model calculations exhibited the greatest consistency with each other, typically agreeing to within 0.5 K in terms of the equivalent blackbody brightness temperature (Tb). The majority of NB and SB models agreed to within ±1 K of the LBL models, although a few older models exhibited systematic Tb biases in excess of 2 K. A discussion of the discrepancies between various models, their association with differences in model physics (e.g., continuum absorption), and their implications for UTH retrieval and radiance assimilation is presented.

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AIRS

Improving Weather Forecasting and Providing New Data on Greenhouse Gases

MOUSTAFA T. CHAHINE, THOMAS S. PAGANO, HARTMUT H. AUMANN, ROBERT ATLAS, CHRISTOPHER BARNET, JOHN BLAISDELL, LUKE CHEN, MURTY DIVAKARLA, ERIC J. FETZER, MITCH GOLDBERG, CATHERINE GAUTIER, STEPHANIE GRANGER, SCOTT HANNON, FREDRICK W. IRION, RAMESH KAKAR, EUGENIA KALNAY, BJORN H. LAMBRIGTSEN, SUNG-YUNG LEE, JOHN Le MARSHALL, W. WALLACE MCMILLAN, LARRY MCMILLIN, EDWARD T. OLSEN, HENRY REVERCOMB, PHILIP ROSENKRANZ, WILLIAM L. SMITH, DAVID STAELIN, L. LARRABEE STROW, JOEL SUSSKIND, DAVID TOBIN, WALTER WOLF, and LIHANG ZHOU

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) and its two companion microwave sounders, AMSU and HSB were launched into polar orbit onboard the NASA Aqua Satellite in May 2002. NASA required the sounding system to provide high-quality research data for climate studies and to meet NOAA's requirements for improving operational weather forecasting. The NOAA requirement translated into global retrieval of temperature and humidity profiles with accuracies approaching those of radiosondes. AIRS also provides new measurements of several greenhouse gases, such as CO2, CO, CH4, O3, SO2, and aerosols.

The assimilation of AIRS data into operational weather forecasting has already demonstrated significant improvements in global forecast skill. At NOAA/NCEP, the improvement in the forecast skill achieved at 6 days is equivalent to gaining an extension of forecast capability of six hours. This improvement is quite significant when compared to other forecast improvements over the last decade. In addition to NCEP, ECMWF and the Met Office have also reported positive forecast impacts due AIRS.

AIRS is a hyperspectral sounder with 2,378 infrared channels between 3.7 and 15.4 μm. NOAA/NESDIS routinely distributes AIRS data within 3 hours to NWP centers around the world. The AIRS design represents a breakthrough in infrared space instrumentation with measurement stability and accuracies far surpassing any current research or operational sounder..The results we describe in this paper are “work in progress,” and although significant accomplishments have already been made much more work remains in order to realize the full potential of this suite of instruments.

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