Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer




107949 (1-82)


The HITRAN database is a compilation of molecular spectroscopic parameters. It was established in the early 1970s and is used by various computer codes to predict and simulate the transmission and emission of light in gaseous media (with an emphasis on terrestrial and planetary atmospheres). The HITRAN compilation is composed of five major components: the line-by-line spectroscopic parameters required for high-resolution radiative-transfer codes, experimental infrared absorption cross-sections (for molecules where it is not yet feasible for representation in a line-by-line form), collision-induced absorption data, aerosol indices of refraction, and general tables (including partition sums) that apply globally to the data. This paper describes the contents of the 2020 quadrennial edition of HITRAN. The HITRAN2020 edition takes advantage of recent experimental and theoretical data that were meticulously validated, in particular, against laboratory and atmospheric spectra. The new edition replaces the previous HITRAN edition of 2016 (including its updates during the intervening years).

All five components of HITRAN have undergone major updates. In particular, the extent of the updates in the HITRAN2020 edition range from updating a few lines of specific molecules to complete replacements of the lists, and also the introduction of additional isotopologues and new (to HITRAN) molecules: SO, CH3F, GeH4, CS2, CH3I and NF3. Many new vibrational bands were added, extending the spectral coverage and completeness of the line lists. Also, the accuracy of the parameters for major atmospheric absorbers has been increased substantially, often featuring sub-percent uncertainties. Broadening parameters associated with the ambient pressure of water vapor were introduced to HITRAN for the first time and are now available for several molecules.

The HITRAN2020 edition continues to take advantage of the relational structure and efficient interface available at and the HITRAN Application Programming Interface (HAPI). The functionality of both tools has been extended for the new edition.


© 2021 The Authors.

This is an open access article under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.

Original Publication Citation

Gordon, I., Rothman, L., Hargreaves, R., Hashemi, R., Karlovets, E., Skinner, F., . . . Yurchenko, S. (2022). The HITRAN2020 molecular spectroscopic database. Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy & Radiative Transfer, 277, 1-82, Article 107949.


0000-0002-1255-396X (Bernath)