Components of near-surface energy balance derived from satellite soundings – Part 2: Noontime latent heat flux
Abstract. This paper introduces a relatively simple method for recovering global fields of latent heat flux. The method focuses on specifying Bowen ratio estimates through exploiting air temperature and vapour pressure measurements obtained from infrared soundings of the AIRS (Atmospheric Infrared Sounder) sensor onboard NASA's Aqua platform. Through combining these Bowen ratio retrievals with satellite surface net available energy data, we have specified estimates of global noontime surface latent heat flux at the 1°×1° scale. These estimates were provisionally evaluated against data from 30 terrestrial tower flux sites covering a broad spectrum of biomes. Taking monthly average 13:30 data for 2003, this revealed promising agreement between the satellite and tower measurements of latent heat flux, with a pooled root-mean-square deviation of 79 W m−2, and no significant bias. However, this success partly arose as a product of the underspecification of the AIRS Bowen ratio compensating for the underspecification of the AIRS net available energy, suggesting further refinement of the approach is required. The error analysis suggested that the landscape level variability in enhanced vegetation index (EVI) and land surface temperature contributed significantly to the statistical metric of the predicted latent heat fluxes.