Sampling errors for meteorological fields observed by low Earth orbiting satellites Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper investigates the sampling errors in the spherical harmonic coefficients of meteorological fields derived from observations made by polar-orbiting satellites. The sampling errors are attributed not only to the spatial gaps of satellite orbits but also to the nonsimultaneousness of satellite sampling. As a result, the mean-square error is found to consist of aliased powers from spatial waves as well as temporal frequencies. In addition to analytical results, a simple energy balance model is employed in a numerical study that produces interesting numerical results. In particular, the root-mean-square error for estimating the daily global average surface temperature anomaly using 16 polar orbits is found to be 0.06°C or less if the temporal scale of decorrelation is equal to 30 days or longer; it can be as high as 1.12°C if the temporal scale is decreased to 1 day. Copyright 1998 by the American Geophysical Union.

author list (cited authors)

  • Li, T., & North, G. R.

publication date

  • January 1, 1998 11:11 AM