Evaluation of Latent Heat Flux Fields from Satellites and Models during SEMAPHORE

Denis Bourras, W. Timothy Liu, Laurence Eymard, Wenqing Tang
2003 Journal of applied meteorology (1988)  
Latent heat fluxes were derived from satellite observations in the region of Structure des Echanges Mer-Atmosphère, Propriétés des Hétérogénéités Océaniques: Recherche Expérimentale (SEMAPHORE), which was conducted near the Azores islands in the North Atlantic Ocean in autumn of 1993. The satellite fluxes were compared with output fields of two atmospheric circulation models and in situ measurements. The rms error of the instantaneous satellite fluxes is between 35 and 40 W m Ϫ2 and the bias is
more » ... Ϫ2 and the bias is 60-85 W m Ϫ2 . The large bias is mainly attributed to a bias in satellite-derived atmospheric humidity and is related to the particular shape of the vertical humidity profiles during SEMAPHORE. The bias in humidity implies that the range of estimated fluxes is smaller than the range of ship fluxes, by 34%-38%. The rms errors for fluxes from models are 30-35 W m Ϫ2 , and the biases are smaller than the biases in satellite fluxes (14-18 W m Ϫ2 ). Two case studies suggest that the satellites detect horizontal gradients of wind speed and specific humidity if the magnitude of the gradients exceeds a detection threshold, which is 1.27 g kg Ϫ1 (100 km) Ϫ1 for specific humidity and between 0.35 and 0.82 m s Ϫ1 (30 km) Ϫ1 for wind speed. In contrast, the accuracy of the spatial gradients of bulk variables from models always varies as a function of the location and number of assimilated observations. A comparison between monthly fluxes from satellites and models reveals that satellite-derived flux anomaly fields are consistent with reanalyzed fields, whereas operational model products lack part of the mesoscale structures present in the satellite fields.
doi:10.1175/1520-0450(2003)042<0227:eolhff>2.0.co;2 fatcat:ukqxcvjzlzd3zgplv4rrjb24ca