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Advances in Meteorology
Volume 2016, Article ID 4126393, 11 pages
Research Article

An Algorithm for Retrieving Precipitable Water Vapor over Land Based on Passive Microwave Satellite Data

1State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environment Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
3Key Laboratory of Agri-Informatics, Ministry of Agriculture/Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
4Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and Application, Nanjing 210023, China

Received 20 October 2015; Revised 5 January 2016; Accepted 11 January 2016

Academic Editor: James Cleverly

Copyright © 2016 Fang-Cheng Zhou et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Precipitable water vapor (PWV) is one of the most variable components of the atmosphere in both space and time. In this study, a passive microwave-based retrieval algorithm for PWV over land without land surface temperature (LST) data was developed. To build the algorithm, two assumptions exist: (1) land surface emissivities (LSE) at two adjacent frequencies are equal and (2) there are simple parameterizations that relate transmittance, atmospheric effective radiating temperature, and PWV. Error analyses were performed using radiosonde sounding observations from Zhangye, China, and CE318 measurements of Dalanzadgad (43°34′37′′N, 104°25′8′′E) and Singapore (1°17′52′′N, 103°46′48′′E) sites from Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET), respectively. In Zhangye, the algorithm had a Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) of 4.39 mm and a bias of 0.36 mm on cloud-free days, while on cloudy days there was an RMSE of 4.84 mm and a bias of 0.52 mm because of the effect of liquid water in clouds. The validations in Dalanzadgad and Singapore sites showed that the retrieval algorithm had an RMSE of 4.73 mm and a bias of 0.84 mm and the bigger errors appeared when the water vapor was very dry or very moist.