Articles | Volume 6, issue 1
25 Jan 2006
25 Jan 2006

Overview of SCIAMACHY validation: 2002–2004

A. J. M. Piters, K. Bramstedt, J.-C. Lambert, and B. Kirchhoff

Abstract. SCIAMACHY, on board Envisat, has been in operation now for almost three years. This UV/visible/NIR spectrometer measures the solar irradiance, the earthshine radiance scattered at nadir and from the limb, and the attenuation of solar radiation by the atmosphere during sunrise and sunset, from 240 to 2380 nm and at moderate spectral resolution. Vertical columns and profiles of a variety of atmospheric constituents are inferred from the SCIAMACHY radiometric measurements by dedicated retrieval algorithms. With the support of ESA and several international partners, a methodical SCIAMACHY validation programme has been developed jointly by Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium (the three instrument providing countries) to face complex requirements in terms of measured species, altitude range, spatial and temporal scales, geophysical states and intended scientific applications. This summary paper describes the approach adopted to address those requirements.

Since provisional releases of limited data sets in summer 2002, operational SCIAMACHY processors established at DLR on behalf of ESA were upgraded regularly and some data products – level-1b spectra, level-2 O3, NO2, BrO and clouds data – have improved significantly. Validation results summarised in this paper and also reported in this special issue conclude that for limited periods and geographical domains they can already be used for atmospheric research. Nevertheless, current processor versions still experience known limitations that hamper scientific usability in other periods and domains. Free from the constraints of operational processing, seven scientific institutes (BIRA-IASB, IFE/IUP-Bremen, IUP-Heidelberg, KNMI, MPI, SAO and SRON) have developed their own retrieval algorithms and generated SCIAMACHY data products, together addressing nearly all targeted constituents. Most of the UV-visible data products – O3, NO2, SO2, H2O total columns; BrO, OClO slant columns; O3, NO2, BrO profiles – already have acceptable, if not excellent, quality. Provisional near-infrared column products – CO, CH4, N2O and CO2 – have already demonstrated their potential for a variety of applications. Cloud and aerosol parameters are retrieved, suffering from calibration with the exception of cloud cover. In any case, scientific users are advised to read carefully validation reports before using the data. It is required and anticipated that SCIAMACHY validation will continue throughout instrument lifetime and beyond and will accompany regular processor upgrades.

Final-revised paper