Determination of precipitable water and cloud liquid water over oceans from the NOAA 15 advanced microwave sounding unit


  • Norman Grody,

  • Jiang Zhao,

  • Ralph Ferraro,

  • Fuzhong Weng,

  • Reinout Boers


The advanced microwave sounding unit (AMSU) was finally launched in May 1998 aboard the NOAA 15 satellite. Algorithms are provided for retrieving the total precipitable water (TPW) and cloud liquid water (CLW) over oceans using the AMSU measurements at 23.8 and 31.4 GHz. Extensive comparisons are made between the AMSU retrievals of CLW and TPW and those obtained using other satellite instruments (Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Microwave Imager (TMI)) and ground-based radiometers. The AMSU TPW is also compared against radiosonde data, where all of the results are in good agreement with rms differences less than 3 mm and biases less than 1 mm over the range between 5 and 60 mm. The CLW comparisons show greater variability, although the time series of the AMSU and ground-based sensors follow each other and cover the same dynamic range of 0–0.5 mm. The AMSU CLW also compares well with the other satellite measurements, although a bias exists between AMSU and TMI when the CLW exceeds 0.5 mm.