Characterizing the tropospheric water vapor spatial variation and trend using 2007–2018 COSMIC radio occultation and ECMWF reanalysis data
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Characterizing the tropospheric water vapor spatial variation and trend using 2007–2018 COSMIC radio occultation and ECMWF reanalysis data

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  • Journal Title:
    Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
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    Atmospheric water vapor plays a crucial role in the global energy balance, hydrological cycle, and climate system. High-quality and consistent water vapor data from different sources are vital for weather prediction and climate research. This study assesses the consistency between the Formosa Satellite Mission 3–Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC) radio occultation (RO) and European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Reanalysis Model 5 (ERA5) water vapor datasets. Comparisons are made across different atmospheric pressure levels (300, 500, and 850 hPa) from 2007 to 2018. Generally, the two datasets show good spatial and temporal agreement. COSMIC's global water vapor retrieval is slightly lower than ERA5's at 500 and 850 hPa, with distinct latitudinal differences between hemispheres. COSMIC exhibits global water vapor increasing trends of 3.47 ± 1.77 % per decade, 3.25 ± 1.25 % per decade, and 2.03 ± 0.65 % per decade at 300, 500, and 850 hPa, respectively. Significant regional variability in water vapor trends, encompassing notable increasing and decreasing patterns, is observable in tropical and subtropical regions. At 500 and 850 hPa, strong water vapor increasing trends are noted in the equatorial Pacific Ocean and the Laccadive Sea, while decreasing trends are evident in the Indo-Pacific Ocean region and the Arabian Sea. Over land, substantial increasing trends at 850 hPa are observed in the southern United States, contrasting with decreasing trends in southern Africa and Australia. The differences between the water vapor trends of COSMIC and ERA5 are primarily negative in the tropical regions at 850 hPa. However, the water vapor increasing trends at 850 hPa estimated from COSMIC are significantly higher than the ones derived from ERA5 data for two low-height stratocumulus-cloud-rich ocean regions west of Africa and South America. These regions with notable water vapor trend differences are located in the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) area with frequent occurrences of convection, such as deep clouds. The difference in characterizing water vapor distribution between RO and ERA5 in deep cloud regions may cause such trend differences. The assessment of spatiotemporal variability in RO-derived water vapor and reanalysis of atmospheric water vapor data helps ensure the quality of these datasets for climate studies.
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    Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 23(22), 14187-14218
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    CC BY
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