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  • Author or Editor: Christopher J. Merchant x
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Christopher J. Merchant
and
Pierre Le Borgne

Abstract

The retrieval (estimation) of sea surface temperatures (SSTs) from space-based infrared observations is increasingly performed using retrieval coefficients derived from radiative transfer simulations of top-of-atmosphere brightness temperatures (BTs). Typically, an estimate of SST is formed from a weighted combination of BTs at a few wavelengths, plus an offset. This paper addresses two questions about the radiative transfer modeling approach to deriving these weighting and offset coefficients. How precisely specified do the coefficients need to be in order to obtain the required SST accuracy (e.g., scatter <0.3 K in week-average SST, bias <0.1 K)? And how precisely is it actually possible to specify them using current forward models? The conclusions are that weighting coefficients can be obtained with adequate precision, while the offset coefficient will often require an empirical adjustment of the order of a few tenths of a kelvin against validation data. Thus, a rational approach to defining retrieval coefficients is one of radiative transfer modeling followed by offset adjustment. The need for this approach is illustrated from experience in defining SST retrieval schemes for operational meteorological satellites. A strategy is described for obtaining the required offset adjustment, and the paper highlights some of the subtler aspects involved with reference to the example of SST retrievals from the imager on the geostationary satellite GOES-8.

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Christopher J. Merchant
and
Mark A. Saunders

Abstract

The presence of stratospheric aerosol can bias the results of infrared satellite retrievals of sea surface temperature (SST) and total precipitable water (TPW). In the case of linear SST retrieval using the Along Track Scanning Radiometer (ATSR), on the ESA European remote-sensing satellites, constant coefficients can be found that give negligible bias (less than 0.1 K) over a wide range of aerosol amount (11-μm optical thickness from 0.0 to 0.022). For TPW retrieval, in contrast, the biases associated with stratospheric aerosol are less satisfactory (2 kg m−2 or greater across a range of 11-μm optical thickness of 0.0–0.01). However, the authors show how to find optimal aerosol-dependent retrieval coefficients for any stratospheric aerosol distribution from knowledge of the mean and variance of that aerosol distribution. Examples of SST and TPW retrieval using simulated ATSR brightness temperature data are given.

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