Atmospheric transmission for submillimetre astronomy

Atmospheric transmission for submillimetre astronomy

We used data from IASI (Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer) on the Metop-A satellite to retrieve water vapour profiles for 11 sites (comprising Antarctica, Chile, Mauna Kea, Greenland, Tibet). The use of a single instrument to make the comparison provides unbiased data with a common calibration method. The profiles are integrated to above the mountain/stratospheric altitude get an estimation of the PWV. We then applied the atmospheric model MOLIERE (Microwave Observation and LIne Estimation and REtrieval) to compute the corresponding atmospheric absorption for wavelengths between 150 μm and 3 mm.


Sites available


PWV/Transmission Calculator

If you use this calculator, we would appreciate that you refer to our paper: Tremblin, Schneider, Minier, Durand, & Urban, 2012, and that you acknowledge its use as follows: This work makes use of the PWV/atmosphere transmission calculator developped at CEA/Irfu, France.




Antarctic sites 
Dome C: Concordia station ( with several telescopes, e.g. IRAIT (International Robotic Antarctic Infrared Telescope) 
Dome A: new site in exploration,
South pole: SPT (South Pole Telescope),

South-American sites 
Chajnantor Plateau in Chile: ALMA (Atacama Large Millimetre Array) site,
Cerro Chajnantor in Chile: CCAT (Cornell Caltech Atacama Telescope),
Cerro Macon in Argentinia

Northern-hemisphere sites
Mauna Kea in Hawaii: JCMT (James Clerk Maxwell Telescope),
Summit in Greenland:
Yangbajing in Tibet: KOSMA (Cologne Observatory for submm-astronomy),

“Stratospheric” sites
SOFIA over Palmdale (USA) and Christchurch (New Zealand),
Contact: or
This work is part of the R&D Antarctica project at Irfu (SAp and SIS).
Mise à jour : 13/12/2012


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