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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2017-07-31
    Description: Latent heat fluxes (LHF) are one of the main contributors to the global energy budget. As the density of LHF measurements over the global oceans is generally poor, the potential of remotely sensed LHF for meteorological applications is enormous. However, to date none of the available satellite products include estimates of systematic, random retrieval, and sampling uncertainties, all of which are essential for assessing their quality. Here, this challenge is taken on by applying regionally independent multi-dimensional bias analyses to LHF-related parameters (wind speed U, near-surface specific humidity qa, and sea surface saturation specific humidity qs) of the Hamburg Ocean Atmosphere Parameters and Fluxes from Satellite (HOAPS) climatology. In connection with multiple triple collocation analyses, it is demonstrated how both instantaneous (gridded) uncertainty measures may be assigned to each pixel (grid box). A high-quality in situ data archive including buoys and selected ships serves as the ground reference. Results show that systematic LHF uncertainties range between 15–50 W m-2 with a global mean of 25 W m-2. Local maxima are mainly found over the subtropical ocean basins as well as along the western boundary currents. Investigations indicate that contributions by qa (U) to the overall LHF uncertainty are in the order of 60 % (25 %). From an instantaneous point of view, random retrieval uncertainties are specifically large over the subtropics with a global average of 37 W m-2. In a climatological sense, their magnitudes become negligible, as do respective sampling uncertainties. Time series analyses show footprints of climate events, such as the strong El Niño during 1997/98. Regional and seasonal analyses suggest that largest total (i.e., systematic + instantaneous random) LHF uncertainties are seen over the Gulf Stream and the Indian monsoon region during boreal winter. In light of the uncertainty measures, the observed continuous global mean LHF increase up to 2009 needs to be treated with caution. First intercomparisons to other LHF climatologies (in situ, satellite) reveal overall resemblance with few, yet distinct exceptions.
    Electronic ISSN: 1867-8610
    Topics: Geosciences
    Published by Copernicus on behalf of European Geosciences Union (EGU).
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