A comparison of SSM/I-derived global marine surface specific humidity datasets

Prytherch, John; Kent, Elizabeth C. ORCID:; Fangohr, Susanne; Berry, David I.. 2015 A comparison of SSM/I-derived global marine surface specific humidity datasets. International Journal of Climatology, 35 (9). 2359-2381.

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Satellite-based microwave sensors have, since the 1980s, provided a means to retrieve near-surface marine specific humidity (qa), accurate estimation of which is necessary for climate and air–sea interaction applications. Seven satellite measurement-derived monthly mean humidity datasets are compared with one another and with a dataset constructed from in situ measurements. The means, spatial and temporal structures of the datasets are shown to be markedly different, with a range of yearly, global mean qa of ∼1 g kg–1. Comparison of the datasets derived using the same satellite measurements of brightness temperature reveals differences in qa that depend on the source of satellite data; the processing and quality control applied to the data; and the algorithm used to derive qa from the satellite measurements of brightness temperature. Regional differences between satellite-derived qa due to the choice of input data, quality control and retrieval algorithm can all exceed the accuracy requirements for surface flux calculation of ∼0.3 g kg–1 and in some cases can be several g kg–1 in monthly means for some periods and regions.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0899-8418
Additional Keywords: marine climatology; satellite observations; surface humidity; air–sea interaction; specific humidity; SSM/I
Date made live: 22 Aug 2014 09:14 +0 (UTC)

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