Articles | Volume 6, issue 3
Research article
 | Highlight paper
19 Mar 2013
Research article | Highlight paper |  | 19 Mar 2013

The CM SAF SSM/I-based total column water vapour climate data record: methods and evaluation against re-analyses and satellite

M. Schröder, M. Jonas, R. Lindau, J. Schulz, and K. Fennig

Abstract. The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) Satellite Application Facility on Climate Monitoring (CM SAF) aims at the provision and sound validation of well documented Climate Data Records (CDRs) in sustained and operational environments. In this study, a total column water vapour path (WVPA) climatology from CM SAF is presented and inter-compared to water vapour data records from various data sources. Based on homogenised brightness temperatures from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I), a climatology of WVPA has been generated within the Hamburg Ocean–Atmosphere Fluxes and Parameters from Satellite (HOAPS) framework. Within a research and operation transition activity the HOAPS data and operation capabilities have been successfully transferred to the CM SAF where the complete HOAPS data and processing schemes are hosted in an operational environment. An objective analysis for interpolation, namely kriging, has been applied to the swath-based WVPA retrievals from the HOAPS data set. The resulting climatology consists of daily and monthly mean fields of WVPA over the global ice-free ocean. The temporal coverage ranges from July 1987 to August 2006. After a comparison to the precursor product the CM SAF SSM/I-based climatology has been comprehensively compared to different types of meteorological analyses from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF-ERA40, ERA INTERIM and operational analyses) and from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA–JRA). This inter-comparison shows an overall good agreement between the climatology and the analyses, with daily absolute biases generally smaller than 2 kg m−2. The absolute value of the bias to JRA and ERA INTERIM is typically smaller than 0.5 kg m−2. For the period 1991–2006, the root mean square error (RMSE) for both reanalyses is approximately 2 kg m−2. As SSM/I WVPA and radiances are assimilated into JMA and all ECMWF analyses and to assess consistency with existing WVPA climatologies, the SSM/I-based climatology is also compared to the time series of SSM/I and TMI (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Microwave Imager) WVPA from Remote Sensing Systems (RSS), leading to results consistent with the reanalyses results. This evaluation study gives confidence in consistency, accurateness and stability of the total water vapour climatology produced.