Satellite observation of atmospheric methane: intercomparison between AIRS and GOSAT TANSO-FTS retrievals
- 1The State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
- 2Earth Resources Technology, Inc., Laurel, MD, USA
- 3NOAA Center for Satellite Applications and Research, College Park, MD 20740, USA
- 4Center for Environmental Remote Sensing, Chiba University, 1–33 Yayoi-cho, Inage-ku, Chiba, Japan
- 5Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20740, USA
Abstract. Space-borne observations of atmospheric methane (CH4) have been made using the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on the EOS/Aqua satellite since August 2002 and the Thermal and Near-infrared Sensor for Carbon Observation Fourier Transform Spectrometer (TANSO-FTS) on the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT) since April 2009. This study compared the GOSAT TANSO-FTS thermal infrared (TIR) version 1.0 CH4 product with the collocated AIRS version 6 CH4 product using data from 1 August 2010 to 30 June 2012, including the CH4 mixing ratios and the total column amounts. The results show that at 300–600 hPa, where both AIRS and GOSAT-TIR CH4 have peak sensitivities, they agree very well, but GOSAT-TIR retrievals tend to be higher than AIRS in layer 200–300 hPa. At 300 hPa the CH4 mixing ratio from GOSAT-TIR is, on average, 10.3 ± 31.8 ppbv higher than that from AIRS, and at 600 hPa GOSAT-TIR retrieved CH4 is −16.2 ± 25.7 ppbv lower than AIRS CH4. Comparison of the total column amount of CH4 shows that GOSAT-TIR agrees with AIRS to within 1 % in the mid-latitude regions of the Southern Hemisphere and in the tropics. In the mid to high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere, comparison shows that GOSAT-TIR is ∼ 1–2 % lower than AIRS, and in the high-latitude regions of the Southern Hemisphere the difference of GOSAT from AIRS varies from −3 % in October to +2 % in July. The difference between AIRS and GOSAT TANSO-FTS retrievals is mainly due to the difference in retrieval algorithms and instruments themselves, and the larger difference in the high-latitude regions is associated with the low information content and small degrees of freedom of the retrieval. The degrees of freedom of GOSAT-TIR retrievals are lower than that of AIRS, which also indicates that the constraint in GOSAT-TIR retrievals may be too strong. From the good correlation between AIRS and GOSAT-TIR retrievals and the seasonal variation they observed, we are confident that the thermal infrared measurements from AIRS and GOSAT-TIR can provide valuable information to capture the spatial and temporal variation of CH4, especially in the mid-upper troposphere, in most periods and regions.