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Estimation of Surface Air Specific Humidity and Air–Sea Latent Heat Flux Using FY-3C Microwave Observations

1,2, 1,2 and 1,3,*
State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
Key Laboratory of Earth Observation, Hainan Province, Sanya 572029, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(4), 466;
Received: 21 January 2019 / Revised: 6 February 2019 / Accepted: 20 February 2019 / Published: 24 February 2019
PDF [3682 KB, uploaded 24 February 2019]


Latent heat flux (LHF) plays an important role in the global hydrological cycle and is therefore necessary to understand global climate variability. It has been reported that the near-surface specific humidity is a major source of error for satellite-derived LHF. Here, a new empirical model relating multichannel brightness temperatures ( T B ) obtained from the Fengyun-3 (FY-3C) microwave radiometer and sea surface air specific humidity ( Q a ) is proposed. It is based on the relationship between T B , Q a , sea surface temperature (SST), and water vapor scale height. Compared with in situ data, the new satellite-derived Q a and LHF both exhibit better statistical results than previous estimates. For Q a , the bias, root mean square difference (RMSD), and the correlation coefficient (R2) between satellite and buoy in the mid-latitude region are 0.08 g/kg, 1.76 g/kg, and 0.92, respectively. For LHF, the bias, RMSD, and R2 are 2.40 W/m2, 34.24 W/m2, and 0.87, respectively. The satellite-derived Q a are also compared with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) humidity datasets, with a bias, RMSD, and R2 of 0.02 g/kg, 1.02 g/kg, and 0.98, respectively. The proposed method can also be extended in the future to observations from other space-borne microwave radiometers. View Full-Text
Keywords: air specific humidity; latent-heat flux; sea surface temperature; FY-3C air specific humidity; latent-heat flux; sea surface temperature; FY-3C

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Gao, Q.; Wang, S.; Yang, X. Estimation of Surface Air Specific Humidity and Air–Sea Latent Heat Flux Using FY-3C Microwave Observations. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 466.

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