Estimation of vertically integrated water vapor in Hungary using MODIS imagery

Anikó Kern, Judit Bartholy, Éva E. Borbás, Zoltán Barcza, Rita Pongrácz, Csaba Ferencz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


Information about the amount and spatial structure of atmospheric water vapor is essential in understanding meteorology and the Earth environment. Space-borne remote sensing offers a relatively inexpensive method to estimate atmospheric water vapor in the form of integrated water vapor (IWV). The research activity reported in the present paper is based on the data acquired by the HRPT/MODIS (High Resolution Picture Transmission, MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) receiving station established in Budapest (Hungary) by the Space Research Group of the Eötvös Loránd University. Integrated water vapor is estimated by the remotely sensed data of the MODIS instrument with different methods and also by the operational numerical weather prediction model of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). Radiosonde data are used to evaluate the accuracy of the different IWV fields though it has been pointed out that the in situ data also suffers from uncertainties. It was found that both the MODIS and the ECMWF based fields are of good accuracy. The satellite data represent finer scale spatial structures while the ECMWF data have a relatively poor spatial resolution. The high quality IWV fields have proved to be useful for radiative transfer studies such as the atmospheric correction of other satellite data from times different than the overpass times of satellites Terra/Aqua and the forecast times of the model data. For this purpose the temporal variability of IWV is scrutinized both using ECMWF and MODIS data. Taking advantage of Terra and Aqua overpasses, the mean rate of change of IWV estimated by the near infrared method was found to be 0.47 ± 0.45 kg m -2 h -1 , while it was 0.13 ± 0.65 kg m -2 h -1 based on the infrared method. The numerical weather prediction model's analysis data estimated -0.01 ± 0.13 kg m -2 h -1 for the mean growth rate, while using forecast data it was 0.24 ± 0.18 kg m -2 h -1 . MODIS data should be used when available for the estimation of the IWV in other studies. If no satellite data are available, or available data are only from one overpass, ECMWF based IWV can be used. In this case the analysis fields (or the satellite field) should be used for temporal extrapolation but the rate of change should be calculated from the forecast data due to its higher temporal resolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1933-1945
Number of pages13
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Integrated water vapor
  • Remote sensing
  • Total precipitable water
  • Water vapor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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