Articles | Volume 15, issue 16
Research article
20 Aug 2015
Research article |  | 20 Aug 2015

A method for merging nadir-sounding climate records, with an application to the global-mean stratospheric temperature data sets from SSU and AMSU

C. McLandress, T. G. Shepherd, A. I. Jonsson, T. von Clarmann, and B. Funke

Abstract. A method is proposed for merging different nadir-sounding climate data records using measurements from high-resolution limb sounders to provide a transfer function between the different nadir measurements. The two nadir-sounding records need not be overlapping so long as the limb-sounding record bridges between them. The method is applied to global-mean stratospheric temperatures from the NOAA Climate Data Records based on the Stratospheric Sounding Unit (SSU) and the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit-A (AMSU), extending the SSU record forward in time to yield a continuous data set from 1979 to present, and providing a simple framework for extending the SSU record into the future using AMSU. SSU and AMSU are bridged using temperature measurements from the Michelson Interferometer for Passive Atmospheric Sounding (MIPAS), which is of high enough vertical resolution to accurately represent the weighting functions of both SSU and AMSU. For this application, a purely statistical approach is not viable since the different nadir channels are not sufficiently linearly independent, statistically speaking. The near-global-mean linear temperature trends for extended SSU for 1980–2012 are −0.63 ± 0.13, −0.71 ± 0.15 and −0.80 ± 0.17 K decade−1 (95 % confidence) for channels 1, 2 and 3, respectively. The extended SSU temperature changes are in good agreement with those from the Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) on the Aura satellite, with both exhibiting a cooling trend of ~ 0.6 ± 0.3 K decade−1 in the upper stratosphere from 2004 to 2012. The extended SSU record is found to be in agreement with high-top coupled atmosphere–ocean models over the 1980–2012 period, including the continued cooling over the first decade of the 21st century.

Short summary
This is the first paper of its kind describing a method for merging the long-term satellite records of global stratospheric temperature from SSU and AMSU to yield a continuous data set from 1979 to present (and beyond). Since global-mean stratospheric temperature is close to radiative equilibrium, our "extended" SSU data set is an important climate record for the detection and attribution of anthropogenic influence.
Final-revised paper