Clouds and aerosols in the Earth’s atmosphere are currently the largest uncertainty factor in our climate models. The global community agrees there is a strong need for an improved understanding of the driving climate parameters and the relationship between reflected solar radiation, the atmospheric energy balance, weather forecasts and climate predictions. EarthCARE is an ESA (European Space Agency) satellite mission carrying four instruments to improve monitoring and understanding of the role that clouds and aerosols play in reflecting and trapping incident solar radiation.
The measurement data from these four instruments (lidar, radar, multi-spectral imager and radiometer) will need to be correlated and processed to a user-friendly information product, for further use in climate models and predictions.
The lidar instrument provides vertical profiles of the aerosols and thin clouds, whereas the radar provides vertical profiles and velocities of the cloud particles using Doppler measurements. The multi-spectral imager gives cross-track information on aerosol distribution and cloud extent, and the radiometer measures the top-of-atmosphere radiances and fluxes.
S[&]T has, together with ESA, developed a set of prototype processors for combining and correlating the data from the four different EarthCARE instruments. This correlation includes ensuring that the data products are projected onto the same grid, that the auxiliary meteorological data is available to all four instruments in the same format, and that the products can be merged for further scientific analyses.