A New Global Water Vapor Dataset

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A comprehensive and accurate global water vapor dataset is critical to the adequate understanding of water vapor's role in the earth's climate system. To begin to satisfy this need, the authors have produced a blended dataset made up of global, 5-yr (1988–92), l°x 1° spatial resolution, atmospheric water vapor (WV) and liquid water path products. These new products consist of both the daily total column-integrated composites and a multilayered WV product at three layers (1000–700, 700–500, 500–300 mb). The analyses combine WV retrievals from the Television and Infrared Operational Satellite (TIROS) Operational Vertical Sounder (TOVS), the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager, and radiosonde observations. The global, vertical-layered water vapor dataset was developed by slicing the blended total column water vapor using layer information from TOVS and radiosonde. Also produced was a companion, over oceans only, liquid water path dataset. Satellite observations of liquid water path are growing in importance since many of the global climate models are now either incorporating or contain liquid water as an explicit variable. The complete dataset (all three products) has been named NVAP, an acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration Water Vapor Project.

This paper provides examples of the new dataset as well as scientific analysis of the observed annual cycle and the interannual variability of water vapor at global, hemispheric, and regional scales. A distinct global annual cycle is shown to be dominated by the Northern Hemisphere observations. Planetary-scale variations are found to relate well to recent independent estimates of tropospheric temperature variations. Maps of regional interannual variability in the 5-yr period show the effect of the 1992 ENSO and other features.

*Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.

+Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.

#METSAT, Science and Technology Corporation, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Corresponding author address: Dr. David L. Randel, Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

A comprehensive and accurate global water vapor dataset is critical to the adequate understanding of water vapor's role in the earth's climate system. To begin to satisfy this need, the authors have produced a blended dataset made up of global, 5-yr (1988–92), l°x 1° spatial resolution, atmospheric water vapor (WV) and liquid water path products. These new products consist of both the daily total column-integrated composites and a multilayered WV product at three layers (1000–700, 700–500, 500–300 mb). The analyses combine WV retrievals from the Television and Infrared Operational Satellite (TIROS) Operational Vertical Sounder (TOVS), the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager, and radiosonde observations. The global, vertical-layered water vapor dataset was developed by slicing the blended total column water vapor using layer information from TOVS and radiosonde. Also produced was a companion, over oceans only, liquid water path dataset. Satellite observations of liquid water path are growing in importance since many of the global climate models are now either incorporating or contain liquid water as an explicit variable. The complete dataset (all three products) has been named NVAP, an acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration Water Vapor Project.

This paper provides examples of the new dataset as well as scientific analysis of the observed annual cycle and the interannual variability of water vapor at global, hemispheric, and regional scales. A distinct global annual cycle is shown to be dominated by the Northern Hemisphere observations. Planetary-scale variations are found to relate well to recent independent estimates of tropospheric temperature variations. Maps of regional interannual variability in the 5-yr period show the effect of the 1992 ENSO and other features.

*Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.

+Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.

#METSAT, Science and Technology Corporation, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Corresponding author address: Dr. David L. Randel, Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
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