Precipitable water vapor over oceans from the Maritime Aerosol Network: Evaluation of global models and satellite products under clear sky conditions
We present results from an evaluation of precipitable water vapor (W) over remote oceanic areas as derived from global reanalysis models and from satellites against observations from the Maritime Aerosol Network (MAN) for cloudless skies during the period of 2004–2017. They cover polar, mid latitude and tropical oceanic regions and represent a first effort to use MAN observations for such evaluation. The global reanalysis model products evaluated in this study are from the Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications Version 2 (MERRA-2), the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Interim Reanalysis (ERA I), and the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) model. The satellite products evaluated are from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), the Polarization and Directionality of the Earth's Reflectances (POLDER), the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment (GOME-2), the Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Chartography (SCIAMACHY), and the Atmospheric Infra-red Sounder (AIRS). Satellite retrievals of W are based on the attenuation of solar reflected light by water vapor absorption bands, except those from AIRS that rely on brightness temperature measurements. A very good agreement is observed between the model estimates and MAN, with mean differences of ~5% and standard deviations of ~15%. These results are within the uncertainties associated with the models and the measurements, indicating the skill of the reanalysis models to estimate W over oceans under clear sky conditions. Mean differences of W between the satellite and MAN products are ~11, 6.7, 12, −7, and 3% for MODIS, POLDER, GOME-2, SCIAMACHY and AIRS respectively, while their standard deviations are 31, 29, 28, 20 and 17%. These differences reveal the need to address inconsistencies among different satellite sensors and ground-based measurements to reduce the uncertainties associated with the retrievals.