K. Weigel, et al.
UTLS water vapour from SCIAMACHY limb measurements V3.01 (2002-2012)
Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 9(1), 133-158, 2016; doi: 10.5194/amt-9-133-2016
H2O HDO H217O H218O


The SCanning Imaging Absorption spectroMeter for Atmospheric CHartographY (SCIAMACHY) aboard the Envisat satellite provided measurements from August 2002 until April 2012. SCIAMACHY measured the scattered or direct sunlight using different observation geometries. The limb viewing geometry allows the retrieval of water vapour at about 10–25 km height from the near-infrared spectral range (1353–1410 nm). These data cover the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS), a region in the atmosphere which is of special interest for a variety of dynamical and chemical processes as well as for the radiative forcing. Here, the latest data version of water vapour (V3.01) from SCIAMACHY limb measurements is presented and validated by comparisons with data sets from other satellite and in situ measurements. Considering retrieval tests and the results of these comparisons, the V3.01 data are reliable from about 11 to 23 km and the best results are found in the middle of the profiles between about 14 and 20 km. Above 20 km in the extra tropics V3.01 is drier than all other data sets. Additionally, for altitudes above about 19 km, the vertical resolution of the retrieved profile is not sufficient to resolve signals with a short vertical structure like the tape recorder. Below 14 km, SCIAMACHY water vapour V3.01 is wetter than most collocated data sets, but the high variability of water vapour in the troposphere complicates the comparison. For 14–20 km height, the expected errors from the retrieval and simulations and the mean differences to collocated data sets are usually smaller than 10 % when the resolution of the SCIAMACHY data is taken into account. In general, the temporal changes agree well with collocated data sets except for the Northern Hemisphere extratropical stratosphere, where larger differences are observed. This indicates a possible drift in V3.01 most probably caused by the incomplete treatment of volcanic aerosols in the retrieval. In all other regions a good temporal stability is shown. In the tropical stratosphere an increase in water vapour is found between 2002 and 2012, which is in agreement with other satellite data sets for overlapping time periods.


  author = "K. Weigel and A. Rozanov and F. Azam and K. Bramstedt and R. Damadeo and K.-U. Eichmann and C. Gebhardt and D. Hurst and M. Kraemer and S. Lossow and W. Read and N. Spelten and G. P. Stiller and K. A. Walker and M. Weber and H. Bovensmann and J. P. Burrows",
  title = "UTLS water vapour from SCIAMACHY limb measurements V3.01 (2002-2012)",
  year = 2016,
  journal = "Atmospheric Measurement Techniques",
  volume = 9,
  number = 1,
  pages = "133-158",
  month = "Jan",
  keywords = "H2O, HDO, H217O, H218O",
  doi = "10.5194/amt-9-133-2016",
  url = ""
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