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The GEWEX Water Vapor Assessment: Overview and Introduction to Results and Recommendations

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journal contribution
posted on 21.08.2019, 11:01 by M Schroeder, M Lockhoff, L Shi, T August, R Bennartz, H Brogniez, X Calbet, F Fell, J Forsythe, A Gambacorta, S-P Ho, ER Kursinski, A Reale, T Trent, Q Yang
To date, a large variety of water vapour data records from satellite and reanalysis are available. It is key to understand the quality and uncertainty of these data records in order to fully exploit these records and to avoid data being employed incorrectly or misinterpreted. Therefore, it is important to inform users on accuracy and limitations of these data records based on consistent inter-comparisons carried out in the framework of international assessments. Addressing this challenge is the major objective of the Global Water and Energy Exchanges (GEWEX) water vapor assessment (G-VAP) which was initiated by the GEWEX Data and Assessments Panel (GDAP). Here, an overview of G-VAP objectives and an introduction to the results from G-VAP’s first phase are given. After this overview, a summary of available data records on water vapour and closely related variables and a short introduction to the utilized methods are presented. The results from inter-comparisons, homogeneity testing and inter-comparison of trend estimates, achieved within G-VAP’s first phase are summarized. The conclusions on future research directions for the wider community and for G-VAP’s next phase are outlined and recommendations have been formulated. For instance, a key recommendation is the need for recalibration and improved inter-calibration of radiance data records and subsequent reprocessing in order to increase stability and to provide uncertainty estimates. This need became evident from a general disagreement in trend estimates (e.g., trends in TCWV ranging from −1.51 ± 0.17 kg/m2/decade to 1.22 ± 0.16 kg/m2/decade) and the presence of break points on global and regional scale. It will be a future activity of G-VAP to reassess the stability of updated or new data records and to assess consistency, i.e., the closeness of data records given their uncertainty estimates.


M. Lockhoff and M. Schröder acknowledge the financial support by the EUMETSAT member states through CM SAF. Informus GmbH was funded under ESA’s Long-Term Data Preservation program under contract 4000109537/13/I-AM. T. Trent acknowledges the funding from the Natural Environment Research Council through National Centre for Earth Observation, contract number PR140015. Efforts of S.-p. Ho were supported by the NSF CAS AGS-1033112. The APC was funded by EUMETSAT CM SAF.



Remote Sensing, 2019, 11(3), 251

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Physics and Astronomy


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The authors are grateful for the support by the scientific community, in particular for valuable discussions at the G-VAP workshops and for various institutions for making their data freely available (see for an overview).