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R. J. Engelen and G. L. Stephens


Information theory is used to study the capabilities of the new-generation satellite infrared sounders [Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) and Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI)] for retrieving atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and for contrasting these new instruments with the current system of infrared sounders [Television and Infrared Observation Satellite (TIROS) Operational Vertical Sounder/High-Resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder (TOVS/HIRS)]. It is shown that instruments like AIRS and IASI will be able to retrieve column-averaged CO2 mixing ratios with high enough accuracy (order of 1–2 ppmv) to be useful for atmospheric CO2 inversion studies that try to estimate sources and sinks of CO2. On the other hand, the TOVS/HIRS system is only able to retrieve column-averaged CO2 mixing ratios with an accuracy of the same order as the seasonal amplitude of atmospheric CO2 variations (order of 10 ppmv). It is also shown that the constraining a priori covariance matrix has an important effect on what information can be extracted from the observations.

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D. P. Dee, M. Balmaseda, G. Balsamo, R. Engelen, A. J. Simmons, and J.-N. Thépaut

This article reviews past and current reanalysis activities at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and describes plans for developing future reanalyses of the coupled climate system. Global reanalyses of the atmosphere, ocean, land surface, and atmospheric composition have played an important role in improving and extending the capabilities of ECMWF's operational forecasting systems. The potential role of reanalysis in support of climate change services in Europe is driving several interesting new developments. These include the production of reanalyses that span a century or more and the implementation of a coupled data assimilation capability suitable for climate reanalysis. Although based largely on ECMWF's achievements, capabilities, and plans, the article serves more generally to provide a review of pertinent issues affecting past and current reanalyses and a discussion of the major challenges in moving to more fully coupled systems.

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A. Hollingsworth, R. J. Engelen, C. Textor, A. Benedetti, O. Boucher, F. Chevallier, A. Dethof, H. Elbern, H. Eskes, J. Flemming, C. Granier, J. W. Kaiser, J.-J. Morcrette, P. Rayner, V.-H. Peuch, L. Rouil, M. G. Schultz, A. J. Simmons, and The Gems Consortium

The Global and Regional Earth System Monitoring Using Satellite and In Situ Data (GEMS) project is combining the manifold expertise in atmospheric composition research and numerical weather prediction of 32 European institutes to build a comprehensive monitoring and forecasting system for greenhouse gases, reactive gases, aerosol, and regional air quality. The project is funded by the European Commission as part of the Global Monitoring of Environment and Security (GMES) framework. GEMS has extended the data assimilation system of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) to include various tracers for which satellite observations exist. A chemical transport model has been coupled to this system to account for the atmospheric chemistry. The GEMS system provides lateral boundary conditions for a set of 10 regional air quality forecast models and global atmospheric fields for use in surface flux inversions for the greenhouse gases. Observations from both in situ and satellite sources are used as input, and the output products will serve users such as policy makers, environmental agencies, the science community, and providers of end-user services for air quality and health. This article provides an overview of GEMS and uses some recent results to illustrate the current status of the project. It is expected that GEMS will grow into a full operational service for the atmospheric component of GMES in the next decade. Part of this transition will be the merge with the Protocol Monitoring for the GMES Service Element: Atmosphere (PROMOTE) GMES project into the Monitoring of Atmospheric Composition and Climate (MACC) project.

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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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G. Janssens-Maenhout, B. Pinty, M. Dowell, H. Zunker, E. Andersson, G. Balsamo, J.-L. Bézy, T. Brunhes, H. Bösch, B. Bojkov, D. Brunner, M. Buchwitz, D. Crisp, P. Ciais, P. Counet, D. Dee, H. Denier van der Gon, H. Dolman, M. R. Drinkwater, O. Dubovik, R. Engelen, T. Fehr, V. Fernandez, M. Heimann, K. Holmlund, S. Houweling, R. Husband, O. Juvyns, A. Kentarchos, J. Landgraf, R. Lang, A. Löscher, J. Marshall, Y. Meijer, M. Nakajima, P. I. Palmer, P. Peylin, P. Rayner, M. Scholze, B. Sierk, J. Tamminen, and P. Veefkind


Under the Paris Agreement (PA), progress of emission reduction efforts is tracked on the basis of regular updates to national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories, referred to as bottom-up estimates. However, only top-down atmospheric measurements can provide observation-based evidence of emission trends. Today, there is no internationally agreed, operational capacity to monitor anthropogenic GHG emission trends using atmospheric measurements to complement national bottom-up inventories. The European Commission (EC), the European Space Agency, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, and international experts are joining forces to develop such an operational capacity for monitoring anthropogenic CO2 emissions as a new CO2 service under the EC’s Copernicus program. Design studies have been used to translate identified needs into defined requirements and functionalities of this anthropogenic CO2 emissions Monitoring and Verification Support (CO2MVS) capacity. It adopts a holistic view and includes components such as atmospheric spaceborne and in situ measurements, bottom-up CO2 emission maps, improved modeling of the carbon cycle, an operational data-assimilation system integrating top-down and bottom-up information, and a policy-relevant decision support tool. The CO2MVS capacity with operational capabilities by 2026 is expected to visualize regular updates of global CO2 emissions, likely at 0.05° x 0.05°. This will complement the PA’s enhanced transparency framework, providing actionable information on anthropogenic CO2 emissions that are the main driver of climate change. This information will be available to all stakeholders, including governments and citizens, allowing them to reflect on trends and effectiveness of reduction measures. The new EC gave the green light to pass the CO2MVS from exploratory to implementing phase.

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