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Composite Total Water Vapor from AMSU-B/MHS and AMSR-E/2 for the Arctic

Water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas and the source of cloud and precipitation. Continuous observations over Arctic sea ice, land ice, and open water are rare. In polar regions, where water vapor content is low, satellite retrieval of water vapor is more challenging.

The composite of two datasets of vertically integrated water vapor (called total water vapor or integrated water vapor) for the Arctic is presented here. It is generated by combining retrievals from the microwave imagers AMSR-E/2 over open water using an existing dataset from Remote Sensing Systems [2] and a new retrieval from the humidity sounders AMSU-B and MHS onboard the NOAA and METOP satellite platforms [1]. The dataset contains daily total water vapor with about 50 km spatial resolution from the high Arctic to mid-latitudes starting in 2003, based on AMSU-B/MHS and AMSR-E observations.

For more detailed investigations swath data are available for the years 2006 and 2007, in addition to the daily product. The retrieval results from each single sensor footprint of the sounders AMSU-B in an ungridded swath format are combined in daily files, and made available in the directory 'AMSU-B_swath' in  the data archive (see link below under "Data Access".

More information can be found in the references below and in the Data User Guide.

This is a new data release. If you find any problems please contact us. Please support this service by acknowledging and citing the data.

Data Access

Data archive

All data can be found in the WaterVapor directory in the Data Archive. Also accessible via ftp (active mode). More information about data access can be found under Data Archive on the front page.

How to cite

Triana-Gómez, A. M., C. Melsheimer, G. Heygster, G. Spreen (2021): Composite Total Water Vapor Dataset From AMSU-B/MHS and AMSR-E/2. Version 1.0. University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany. Available online at

Please include more references from the publication list below as appropriate.


  1. Triana-Gómez, A. M., G. Heygster, C. Melsheimer, G. Spreen, M. Negusini, & B. H. Petkov (2020). Improved water vapour retrieval from AMSU-B and MHS in the Arctic. Atmos. Meas. Tech., 13, 3697–3715. doi:10.5194/amt-13-3697-2020 [Article (PDF file)]
  2. Wentz, F. J. and T. Meissner. 2004. AMSR-E/Aqua L2B Global Swath Ocean Products derived from Wentz Algorithm, Version 2. Boulder, Colorado USA. NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center. doi:10.5067/AMSR-E/AE_OCEAN.002
  3. C. Melsheimer and G. Heygster. Improved retrieval of total water vapor over polar regions from AMSU-B microwave radiometer data. IEEE Trans. Geosci. Remote Sens., 46(8):2307–2322, 2008. doi:10.1109/TGRS.2008.918013
  4. Wentz, F.J., T. Meissner, C. Gentemann, K.A. Hilburn, J. Scott, 2014: Remote Sensing Systems GCOM-W1 AMSR2 Daily Environmental Suite on 0.25 deg grid, Version V.v. Remote Sensing Systems, Santa Rosa, CA. Available online at
  5. Wentz, F.J., T. Meissner, C. Gentemann, M.Brewer, 2014: Remote Sensing Systems AQUA AMSR-E Daily Environmental Suite on 0.25 deg grid, Version V.v. Remote Sensing Systems, Santa Rosa, CA. Available online at


This work is supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – project no. 268020496 – TRR 172, within the Transregional Collaborative Research Center “ArctiC Amplification: Climate Relevant Atmospheric and SurfaCe Processes, and Feedback Mechanisms”, (AC)3, as well as the project INTAROS (INTegratedArctic Observation System) funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under GA 727890.

We very much appreciate the provision of TWV data by Remote Sensing Systems (RSS). AMSR TWV data are produced by Remote Sensing Systems and were sponsored by the NASA AMSR-E Science Team and the NASA Earth Science MEaSUREs Program. Data are available at


For more information or questions please contact Arantxa Triana-Gómez, Christian Melsheimer, Georg Heygster, or Gunnar Spreen