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Richard M. Schulte, Christian D. Kummerow, Wesley Berg, Steven C. Reising, Shannon T. Brown, Todd C. Gaier, Boon H. Lim, and Sharmila Padmanabhan

Abstract

The rapid development of miniaturized satellite instrument technology has created a new opportunity to deploy constellations of passive microwave (PMW) radiometers to permit retrievals of the same Earth scene with very high temporal resolution to monitor cloud evolution and processes. For such a concept to be feasible, it must be shown that it is possible to distinguish actual changes in the atmospheric state from the variability induced by making observations at different Earth incidence angles (EIAs). To this end, we present a flexible and physical optimal estimation-based algorithm designed to retrieve profiles of atmospheric water vapor, cloud liquid water path, and cloud ice water path from cross-track PMW sounders. The algorithm is able to explicitly account for the dependence of forward model errors on EIA and atmospheric regime. When the algorithm is applied to data from the Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems Technology Demonstration (TEMPEST-D) CubeSat mission, its retrieved products are generally in agreement with those obtained from the similar but larger Microwave Humidity Sounder instrument. More importantly, when forward model brightness temperature offsets and assumed error covariances are allowed to change with EIA and sea surface temperature, view-angle-related biases are greatly reduced. This finding is confirmed in two ways: through a comparison with reanalysis data and by making use of brief periods in early 2019 during which the TEMPEST-D spacecraft was rotated such that its scan pattern was along track, allowing dozens of separate observations of any given atmospheric feature along the satellite’s ground track.

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REFRACTT 2006

Real-Time Retrieval of High-Resolution, Low-Level Moisture Fields from Operational NEXRAD and Research Radars

Rita D. Roberts, Frédéric Fabry, Patrick C. Kennedy, Eric Nelson, James W. Wilson, Nancy Rehak, Jason Fritz, V. Chandrasekar, John Braun, Juanzhen Sun, Scott Ellis, Steven Reising, Timothy Crum, Larry Mooney, Robert Palmer, Tammy Weckwerth, and Sharmila Padmanabhan

The Refractivity Experiment for H2O Research and Collaborative Operational Technology Transfer (REFRACTT), conducted in northeast Colorado during the summer of 2006, provided a unique opportunity to obtain high-resolution gridded moisture fields from the operational Denver Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) and three research radars using a radar-based index of refraction (refractivity) technique. Until now, it has not been possible to observe and monitor moisture variability in the near-surface boundary layer to such high spatial (4-km horizontal gridpoint spacing) and temporal (4–10-min update rates) resolutions using operational NEXRAD and provide these moisture fields to researchers and the National Weather Service (NWS) forecasters in real time. The overarching goals of REFRACTT were to 1) access and mosaic the refractivity data from the operational NEXRAD and research radars together over a large domain for use by NWS forecasters in real time for short-term forecasting, 2) improve our understanding of near-surface water vapor variability and the role it plays in the initiation of convection and thunderstorms, and 3) improve the accuracy of quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPF) through improved observations and assimilation of low-level moisture fields. This paper presents examples of refractivity-derived moisture fields from REFRACTT in 2006 and the moisture variability observed in the near-surface boundary layer, in association with thunderstorm initiation, and with a cold frontal passage.

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Tristan S. L’Ecuyer, Brian J. Drouin, James Anheuser, Meredith Grames, David S. Henderson, Xianglei Huang, Brian H. Kahn, Jennifer E. Kay, Boon H. Lim, Marian Mateling, Aronne Merrelli, Nathaniel B. Miller, Sharmila Padmanabhan, Colten Peterson, Nicole-Jeanne Schlegel, Mary L. White, and Yan Xie

Abstract

Earth’s climate is strongly influenced by energy deficits at the poles that emit more thermal energy than they receive from the sun. Energy exchanges between the surface and atmosphere influence the local environment while heat transport from lower latitudes drives midlatitude atmospheric and oceanic circulations. In the Arctic, in particular, local energy imbalances induce strong seasonality in surface–atmosphere heat exchanges and an acute sensitivity to forced climate variations. Despite these important local and global influences, the largest contributions to the polar atmospheric and surface energy budgets have not been fully characterized. The spectral variation of far-infrared radiation that makes up 60% of polar thermal emission has never been systematically measured impeding progress toward consensus in predicted rates of Arctic warming, sea ice decline, and ice sheet melt. Enabled by recent advances in sensor miniaturization and CubeSat technology, the Polar Radiant Energy in the Far Infrared Experiment (PREFIRE) mission will document, for the first time, the spectral, spatial, and temporal variations of polar far-infrared emission. Selected under NASA’s Earth Ventures Instrument (EVI) program, PREFIRE will utilize new lightweight, low-power, ambient temperature detectors capable of measuring at wavelengths up to 50 μm to quantify Earth’s far-infrared spectrum. Estimates of spectral surface emissivity, water vapor, cloud properties, and the atmospheric greenhouse effect derived from these measurements offer the potential to advance our understanding of the factors that modulate thermal fluxes in the cold, dry conditions characteristic of the polar regions.

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