1Service d'Aéronomie, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace, Université ParisVI, Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin, Verrières-le-Buisson cedex, France
2Groupe de Spectroscopie moléculaire et Atmosphérique, CNRS and Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Reims cedex, France
3Laboratoire de l'Atmosphère et des Cyclones, UMR Université de La Réunion-CNRS-Météo France, St-Denis de La Réunion, France
4Center for Atmospheric Science, University Chemical Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Abstract. Among the objectives of the HIBISCUS campaign was the study of water vapour in the tropical upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS) by balloon borne in situ and remote sensing, offering a unique opportunity for evaluating the performances of balloon and satellite water vapour data available at the southern tropics in February-April 2004. Instruments evaluated include balloon borne in situ tunable diode laser spectrometer (μ SDLA) and surface acoustic wave hygrometer (SAW), and remote sensing with a near IR spectrometer (SAOZ) flown on a circumnavigating long duration balloon. The satellite systems available are those of AIRS/AMSU (v4), SAGE-II (v6.2), HALOE (v19), MIPAS (v4.62) and GOMOS (v6.0). In the stratosphere between 20–25 km, three satellite instruments, HALOE, SAGE-II and MIPAS, are showing very consistent results (nearly constant mixing ratios), while AIRS, GOMOS and the SAOZ balloon are displaying a slight increase with altitude. Considering the previous studies, the first three appear the most precise at this level, HALOE being the less variable (5%), close to the atmospheric variability shown by the REPROBUS/ECMWF Chemistry-Transport model. The three others are showing significantly larger variability, AIRS being the most variable (35%), followed by GOMOS (25%) and SAOZ (20%). Lower down in the Tropical Tropopause Layer between 14–20 km, HALOE and SAGE-II are showing marked minimum mixing ratios around 17–19 km, not seen by all others. For HALOE, this might be related to an altitude registration error already identified on ozone, while for SAGE-II, a possible explanation could be the persistence of the dry bias displayed by previous retrieval versions, not completely removed in version 6.2. On average, MIPAS is consistent with AIRS, GOMOS and SAOZ, not displaying the dry bias observed in past versions, but a fast degradation of precision below 20 km. Compared to satellites, the μ SDLA measurements shows systematically larger humidity although this conclusion may be biased by the fact that the balloon flights were carried out intentionally next or above strong convective systems where remote observations from space are difficult. In the upper troposphere below 14 km, all remote sensing measurements (except MIPAS of limited precision, and AIRS/AMSU) become rare, dry biased and less variable compared to ECMWF, but particularly HALOE and SAGE-II. The main reason for that is the frequent masking by clouds within which no remote measurements could be performed except by the AMSU microwave. Water vapour remote sensing profiles are representative of cloud free conditions only and thus dryer and less variable on average than ECMWF and AIRS/AMSU. Always in the upper troposphere, two in-situ instruments, μ SDLA and SAW, flown on the same balloon agree each other, displaying water vapour mixing ratios 100–200% larger than that of HALOE and MIPAS, which could be explained by the large ice supersaturation of the layer up to the tropopause, hardly detectable from the orbit.