For more than 15 years, polar winds from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imagery have been generated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS). These datasets are a NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) operational satellite product that is used at more than 10 major numerical weather prediction (NWP) centers worldwide. The MODIS polar winds product is composed of both infrared window (IR-W) and water vapor (WV) tracked features. The WV atmospheric motion vectors (AMV) yield a better spatial distribution than the IR-W since both cloud and clear-sky features can be tracked in the WV images. As the new generation polar satellite-era begins with the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (S-NPP), there is currently no WV channel on the Visible/Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), resulting in a data gap with only IR-W derived AMVs possible. This scenario presents itself as an opportunity to evaluate hyperspectral infrared moisture retrievals from consecutive overlapping satellite polar passes to extract atmospheric motion from clear-sky regions on constant (and known) pressure surfaces, i.e., estimating winds in retrieval space rather than radiance space. Perhaps most significantly, this method has the potential to provide vertical wind profiles, as opposed to the current MODIS-derived single-level AMVs. In this study, the winds technique is applied to Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) moisture retrievals from NASA’s Aqua satellite. The resulting winds are assimilated into the Goddard Earth Observing System Model, Version 5 (GEOS-5). The results are encouraging, as the AIRS retrieval polar AMVs have a similar quality as the MODIS AMVs and exhibit a positive impact in the hemispheric Day 4.5 to 6.5 forecasts for a one-month experiment in July 2012.
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