Articles | Volume 6, issue 9
Research article
03 Sep 2013
Research article |  | 03 Sep 2013

Mid-upper tropospheric methane retrieval from IASI and its validation

X. Xiong, C. Barnet, E. S. Maddy, A. Gambacorta, T. S. King, and S. C. Wofsy

Abstract. Mid-upper tropospheric methane (CH4), as an operational product at NOAA's (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Comprehensive Large Array-data Stewardship System (CLASS), has been retrieved from the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) since 2008. This paper provides a description of the retrieval method and the validation using 596 CH4 vertical profiles from aircraft measurements by the HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations (HIPPO) program over the Pacific Ocean. The number of degrees of freedom for the CH4 retrieval is mostly less than 1.5, and it decreases under cloudy conditions. The retrievals show greatest sensitivity between 100–600 hPa in the tropics and 200–750 hPa in the mid- to high latitude. Validation is accomplished using aircraft measurements (convolved by applying the monthly mean averaging kernels) collocated with all the retrieved profiles within 200 km and on the same day, and the results show that, on average, a larger error of CH4 occurs at 300–500 hPa. The bias in the trapezoid of 374–477 hPa is −1.74% with a residual standard deviation of 1.20%, and at layer 596–753 hPa the bias is −0.69% with a residual standard deviation of 1.07%. The retrieval error is relatively larger in the high northern latitude regions and/or under cloudy conditions. The main reasons for this negative bias include the uncertainty in the spectroscopy near the methane Q branch and/or the empirical bias correction, plus residual cloud contamination in the cloud-cleared radiances. It is expected for NOAA to generate the CH4 product for 20 + years using a similar algorithm from three similar thermal infrared sensors: Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS), IASI and the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS). Such a unique product will provide a supplementary to the current ground-based observation network, particularly in the Arctic, for monitoring the CH4 cycle, its transport and trend associated with climate change.