Towards IASI-New Generation (IASI-NG): impact of improved spectral resolution and radiometric noise on the retrieval of thermodynamic, chemistry and climate variables
Abstract. Besides their strong contribution to weather forecast improvement through data assimilation, thermal infrared sounders onboard polar-orbiting platforms are now playing a key role for monitoring atmospheric composition changes. The Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) instrument developed by the French space agency (CNES) and launched by EUMETSAT onboard the Metop satellite series is providing essential inputs for weather forecasting and pollution/climate monitoring owing to its smart combination of large horizontal swath, good spectral resolution and high radiometric performance. EUMETSAT is currently preparing the next polar-orbiting program (EPS-SG) with the Metop-SG satellite series that should be launched around 2020. In this framework, CNES is studying the concept of a new instrument, the IASI-New Generation (IASI-NG), characterized by an improvement of both spectral and radiometric characteristics as compared to IASI, with three objectives: (i) continuity of the IASI/Metop series; (ii) improvement of vertical resolution; and (iii) improvement of the accuracy and detection threshold for atmospheric and surface components. In this paper, we show that an improvement of spectral resolution and radiometric noise fulfil these objectives by leading to (i) a better vertical coverage in the lower part of the troposphere, thanks to the increase in spectral resolution; and (ii) an increase in the accuracy of the retrieval of several thermodynamic, climate and chemistry variables, thanks to the improved signal-to-noise ratio as well as less interference between the signatures of the absorbing species in the measured radiances. The detection limit of several atmospheric species is also improved. We conclude that IASI-NG has the potential to strongly benefit the numerical weather prediction, chemistry and climate communities now connected through the European GMES/Copernicus initiative.