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Jackson D. L., G. A. Wick and F. R. Robertson (August 2009): Improved multisensor approach to satellite-retrieved near-surface specific humidity observations. JGR-Atmospheres, 114, D16303. doi:10.1029/2008JD011341

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A multisensor microwave retrieval of near-surface 10 m specific humidity (Qa) using satellite observations from the advanced microwave sounding unit-A (AMSU-A), the Special Sensor Microwave Temperature Sounder-2, and the Special Sensor Microwave Imager is improved upon in this study. Refinements to the regression formula, training data set, collocation procedure, and height adjustment to 10 m were used to improve retrievals from two different sensor combinations. Independent validation with the International Comprehensive Ocean-Atmosphere Data Set (ICOADS) indicates a lower overall bias of ∼0.3 g/kg and a smaller root-mean-square difference of ∼0.4 g/kg than with several previously published single-sensor Qa retrievals. A significant regional Qa wet bias of ∼3 g/kg in the summer over the North Pacific was found for all satellite retrievals, and a correction was developed using an inversion index defined using sea surface temperature and AMSU-A lower tropospheric temperature observations. An assessment of ICOADS ship and buoy validation data indicated uncertainties related to height adjustments of these in situ observations to be 0.2–0.4 g/kg, while hygrometer differences and solar heating effects had smaller uncertainties of less than 0.05 g/kg. Validation of the updated multisensor retrievals with ICOADS over an 8-year period from 1999 to 2006 revealed a reduced magnitude of the regional biases when compared to previously published retrievals. Regional Qa differences, particularly in the subtropical high regions, are shown to play a significant role in determination of surface latent heat flux.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: PSD Publications
Divisions: Physical Sciences Division
DOI: 10.1029/2008JD011341