Due to the great importance of atmospheric water vapor for weather and climate, much effort is devoted to remote sensing of atmospheric water vapor. The detection over water is well established, while the situation over land surface is worse. Therefore, a new method is developed to derive the total atmospheric water vapor content over land surfaces even for higher aerosol contents with the aid of backscattered solar radiances. Numerous radiative transfer simulations with a matrix operator code of vertically backscattered solar radiance were carried out for different vertically stratified atmospheres. The resolution of 1.7 nm in the wavelength range from 700 to 1050 nm was adopted to the resolution of our multichannel spectrometer OVID (Optical Visible and near Infrared Detector). Various atmospheric conditions were chosen, which were defined by variable input parameters of: (a) vertical profiles of temperature, pressure, and water vapor, (b) total water vapor content, (c) aerosols, (d) surface reflectance, and (e) sun zenith angle. Clouds were not taken into account. From the evaluation of these theoretical calculations it can be concluded that this technique allows the detection of total atmospheric water vapor content over land surfaces with an error of less than 10%. This result is important with regard to future measurements planed with the MERIS imaging spectrometer on board the european satellite ENVISAT, which will be launched in 1998. In addition to these theoretical calculations also various aircraft measurements of the backscattered radiances in the wavelength range from 600 to 1650 nm were carried out. These measurements are done with the above mentioned OVID, a new multichannel array spectrometer of the Universities of Hamburg and Berlin. First comparisons of these airborne CCD measurements with calculated spectra are shown.