The SPARC water vapour assessment II: Profile-to-profile and climatological comparisons of stratospheric δd(H2O) observations from satellite
Journal article, 2019

Within the framework of the second SPARC (Stratosphere-troposphere Processes And their Role in Climate) water vapour assessment (WAVAS-II), we evaluated five data sets of δD(H2O) obtained from observations by Odin/SMR (Sub-Millimetre Radiometer), Envisat/MIPAS (Environmental Satellite/Michelson Interferometer for Passive Atmospheric Sounding), and SCISAT/ACE-FTS (Science Satellite/Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment - Fourier Transform Spectrometer) using profile-to-profile and climatological comparisons. These comparisons aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of typical uncertainties in the observational database that could be considered in the future in observational and modelling studies. Our primary focus is on stratospheric altitudes, but results for the upper troposphere and lower mesosphere are also shown. There are clear quantitative differences in the measurements of the isotopic ratio, mainly with regard to comparisons between the SMR data set and both the MIPAS and ACE-FTS data sets. In the lower stratosphere, the SMR data set shows a higher depletion in δD than the MIPAS and ACE-FTS data sets. The differences maximise close to 50hPa and exceed 200%. With increasing altitude, the biases decrease. Above 4hPa, the SMR data set shows a lower δD depletion than the MIPAS data sets, occasionally exceeding 100%. Overall, the δD biases of the SMR data set are driven by HDO biases in the lower stratosphere and by H2O biases in the upper stratosphere and lower mesosphere. In between, in the middle stratosphere, the biases in δD are the result of deviations in both HDO and H2O. These biases are attributed to issues with the calibration, in particular in terms of the sideband filtering, and uncertainties in spectroscopic parameters. The MIPAS and ACE-FTS data sets agree rather well between about 100 and 10hPa. The MIPAS data sets show less depletion below approximately 15hPa (up to about 30%), due to differences in both HDO and H2O. Higher up this behaviour is reversed, and towards the upper stratosphere the biases increase. This is driven by increasing biases in H2O, and on occasion the differences in δD exceed 80%. Below 100hPa, the differences between the MIPAS and ACE-FTS data sets are even larger. In the climatological comparisons, the MIPAS data sets continue to show less depletion in δD than the ACE-FTS data sets below 15hPa during all seasons, with some variations in magnitude. The differences between the MIPAS and ACE-FTS data have multiple causes, such as differences in the temporal and spatial sampling (except for the profile-to-profile comparisons), cloud influence, vertical resolution, and the microwindows and spectroscopic database chosen. Differences between data sets from the same instrument are typically small in the stratosphere. Overall, if the data sets are considered together, the differences in δD among them in key areas of scientific interest (e.g. tropical and polar lower stratosphere, lower mesosphere, and upper troposphere) are too large to draw robust conclusions on atmospheric processes affecting the water vapour budget and distribution, e.g. the relative importance of different mechanisms transporting water vapour into the stratosphere.

satellite data



water vapor

isotopic ratio

atmospheric transport


Charlotta Högberg

Stockholm University

Stefan Lossow

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

F. Khosrawi

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

Ralf Bauer

University of Toronto

K.A. Walker

University of Toronto

Patrick Eriksson

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Microwave and Optical Remote Sensing

Donal Murtagh

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Microwave and Optical Remote Sensing

G. P. Stiller

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

J. Steinwagner

Max Planck Society

Qiong Zhang

Stockholm University

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics

1680-7316 (ISSN) 1680-7324 (eISSN)

Vol. 19 4 2497-2526

Subject Categories

Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences


Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources



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9/7/2020 1