Merged 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 merged dataset of vertically integrated water vapor (called total water vapor or integrated water vapor) for the Arctic presented here, is generated by combining retrievals from the microwave imagers AMSR-E/2 over open water using an existing dataset [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. The data data is available as daily maps (png format; example Figure with monthly means on the right) and NetCDF analysis format.

2021/06 ATTENTION: Data reprocessing is ongoing. Data will be available shortly!


  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


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.


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