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  • Estimation of High Spatial-Resolution Clear-Sky Land Surface-Upwelling Longwave Radiation from VIIRS/S-NPP Data
    Surface-upwelling longwave radiation (LWUP) is an important component of the surface radiation budget. Under the general framework of the hybrid method, the linear models and the multivariate adaptive regression spline (MARS) models are developed to estimate the 750 m instantaneous clear-sky LWUP from the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiance of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) channels M14, M15, and M16. Comprehensive radiative transfer simulations are conducted to generate a huge amount of representative samples, from which the linear model and the MARS model are derived. The two models developed are validated by the field measurements collected from seven sites in the Surface Radiation Budget Network (SURFRAD). The bias and root-mean-square error (RMSE) of the linear models are −4.59 W/m2 and 16.15 W/m2, whereas those of the MARS models are −5.23 W/m2 and 16.38 W/m2, respectively. The linear models are preferable for the production of the operational LWUP product due to its higher computational efficiency and acceptable accuracy. The LWUP estimated by the linear models developed from VIIRS is compared to that retrieved from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). They agree well with each other with bias and RMSE of −0.15 W/m2 and 25.24 W/m2 respectively. This is the first time that the hybrid method has been applied to globally estimate clear-sky LWUP from VIIRS data. The good performance of the developed hybrid method and consistency between VIIRS LWUP and MODIS LWUP indicate that the hybrid method is promising for producing the long-term high spatial resolution environmental data record (EDR) of LWUP. more
  • Comparing Two Independent Satellite-Based Algorithms for Detecting and Tracking Ash Clouds by Using SEVIRI Sensor
    The Eyjafjallajökull (Iceland) volcanic eruption of April–May 2010 caused unprecedented air-traffic disruption in Northern Europe, revealing some important weaknesses of current operational ash-monitoring and forecasting systems and encouraging the improvement of methods and procedures for supporting the activities of Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers (VAACs) better. In this work, we compare two established satellite-based algorithms for ash detection, namely RSTASH and the operational London VAAC method, both exploiting sensor data of the spinning enhanced visible and infrared imager (SEVIRI). We analyze similarities and differences in the identification of ash clouds during the different phases of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption. The work reveals, in some cases, a certain complementary behavior of the two techniques, whose combination might improve the identification of ash-affected areas in specific conditions. This is indicated by the quantitative comparison of the merged SEVIRI ash product, achieved integrating outputs of the RSTASH and London VAAC methods, with independent atmospheric infrared sounder (AIRS) DDA (dust-detection algorithm) observations. more
  • Satellite Observations of Stratospheric Gravity Waves Associated with the Intensification of Tropical Cyclones
    Forecasting the intensity of tropical cyclones is a challenging problem. Rapid intensification is often preceded by the formation of “hot towers” near the eyewall. Driven by strong release of latent heat, hot towers are high-reaching tropical cumulonimbus clouds that penetrate the tropopause. Hot towers are a potentially important source of stratospheric gravity waves. Using 13.5 years (2002–2016) of Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) observations of stratospheric gravity waves and tropical cyclone data from the International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS), we found empirical evidence that stratospheric gravity wave activity is associated with the intensification of tropical cyclones. The AIRS and IBTrACS data showed that strong gravity wave events occurred about twice as often for tropical cyclone intensification compared to storm weakening. Observations of stratospheric gravity waves, which are not affected by obscuring tropospheric clouds, may become an important future indicator of storm intensification. more
  • Intercomparison of AIRS and HIRDLS stratospheric gravity wave observations
    We investigate stratospheric gravity wave observations by the Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder (AIRS) aboard NASA's Aqua satellite and the High Resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder (HIRDLS) aboard NASA's Aura satellite. AIRS operational temperature retrievals are typically not used for studies of gravity waves, because their vertical and horizontal resolution is rather limited. This study uses data of a high-resolution retrieval which provides stratospheric temperature profiles for each individual satellite footprint. Therefore the horizontal sampling of the high-resolution retrieval is 9 times better than that of the operational retrieval. HIRDLS provides 2-D spectral information of observed gravity waves in terms of along-track and vertical wavelengths. AIRS as a nadir sounder is more sensitive to short-horizontal-wavelength gravity waves, and HIRDLS as a limb sounder is more sensitive to short-vertical-wavelength gravity waves. Therefore HIRDLS is ideally suited to complement AIRS observations. A calculated momentum flux factor indicates that the waves seen by AIRS contribute significantly to momentum flux, even if the AIRS temperature variance may be small compared to HIRDLS. The stratospheric wave structures observed by AIRS and HIRDLS often agree very well. Case studies of a mountain wave event and a non-orographic wave event demonstrate that the observed phase structures of AIRS and HIRDLS are also similar. AIRS has a coarser vertical resolution, which results in an attenuation of the amplitude and coarser vertical wavelengths than for HIRDLS. However, AIRS has a much higher horizontal resolution, and the propagation direction of the waves can be clearly identified in geographical maps. The horizontal orientation of the phase fronts can be deduced from AIRS 3-D temperature fields. This is a restricting factor for gravity wave analyses of limb measurements. Additionally, temperature variances with respect to stratospheric gravity wave activity are compared on a statistical basis. The complete HIRDLS measurement period from January 2005 to March 2008 is covered. The seasonal and latitudinal distributions of gravity wave activity as observed by AIRS and HIRDLS agree well. A strong annual cycle at mid- and high latitudes is found in time series of gravity wave variances at 42 km, which has its maxima during wintertime and its minima during summertime. The variability is largest during austral wintertime at 60° S. Variations in the zonal winds at 2.5 hPa are associated with large variability in gravity wave variances. Altogether, gravity wave variances of AIRS and HIRDLS are complementary to each other. Large parts of the gravity wave spectrum are covered by joint observations. This opens up fascinating vistas for future gravity wave research. more