Articles | Volume 9, issue 5
Research article
25 May 2016
Research article |  | 25 May 2016

Consistency and quality assessment of the Metop-A/IASI and Metop-B/IASI operational trace gas products (O3, CO, N2O, CH4, and CO2) in the subtropical North Atlantic

Omaira Elena García, Eliezer Sepúlveda, Matthias Schneider, Frank Hase, Thomas August, Thomas Blumenstock, Sven Kühl, Rosemary Munro, Ángel Jesús Gómez-Peláez, Tim Hultberg, Alberto Redondas, Sabine Barthlott, Andreas Wiegele, Yenny González, and Esther Sanromá

Abstract. This paper presents the tools and methodology for performing a routine comprehensive monitoring of consistency and quality of IASI (Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer) trace gas Level 2 (L2) products (O3, CO, N2O, CH4, and CO2) generated at EUMETSAT (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites) using ground-based observations at the Izaña Atmospheric Observatory (IZO, Tenerife). As a demonstration the period 2010–2014 was analysed, covering the version 5 of the IASI L2 processor. Firstly, we assess the consistency between the total column (TC) observations from the IASI sensors on board the EUMETSAT Metop-A and Metop-B meteorological satellites (IASI-A and IASI-B respectively) in the subtropical North Atlantic region during the first 2 years of IASI-B operations (2012–2014). By analysing different timescales, we probe the daily and annual consistency of the variability observed by IASI-A and IASI-B and thereby assess the suitability of IASI-B for continuation of the IASI-A time series. The continuous intercomparison of both IASI sensors also offers important diagnostics for identifying inconsistencies between the data records and for documenting their temporal stability. Once the consistency of IASI sensors is documented we estimate the overall accuracy of all the IASI trace gas TC products by comparing to coincident ground-based Fourier transform infrared spectrometer (FTS) measurements performed at IZO from 2010 to 2014. The IASI L2 products reproduce the ground-based FTS observations well at the longest temporal scales, i.e. annual cycles and long-term trends for all the trace gases considered (Pearson correlation coefficient, R, larger than 0.95 and 0.75 for long-term trends and annual cycles respectively) with the exception of CO2. For CO2 acceptable agreement is only achieved for long-term trends (R ∼ 0.70). The differences observed between IASI and FTS observations can be in part attributed to the different vertical sensitivities of the two remote sensing instruments and also to the degree of maturity of the IASI products: O3 and CO are pre-operational, while N2O, CH4, and CO2 are, for the period covered by this study, aspirational products only and are not considered mature. Regarding shorter timescales (single or daily measurements), only the O3 product seems to show good sensitivity to actual atmospheric variations (R ∼ 0.80), while the CO product is only moderately sensitive (R ∼ 0.50). For the remainder of the trace gases, further improvements would be required to capture the day-to-day real atmospheric variability.

Short summary
Atmospheric remote sounding from space is fundamental for investigating the processes driving climate change. However, for a correct scientific interpretation of these records a documentation of their quality is required. In this context, this paper exploits the high potential of the Izaña Atmospheric Observatory, as a ground-based reference site, to perform the first comprehensive validation of the EUMETSAT atmospheric trace gas products O3, CH4, N2O, CO and CO2 of the remote sensor IASI.