Clouds and Earth Radiant Energy System (CERES), a review: Past, present and...

Smith, G. L. S., K. J. Priestley, N. Loeb, B. Wielicki, T. Charlock, P. Minnis, D. R. Doelling, and D. A. Rutan (2011), Clouds and Earth Radiant Energy System (CERES), a review: Past, present and future, Advances in Space Research, 48, 254-263, doi:10.1016/j.asr.2011.03.009.

The Clouds and Earth Radiant Energy System (CERES) project’s objectives are to measure the reflected solar radiance (shortwave) and Earth-emitted (longwave) radiances and from these measurements to compute the shortwave and longwave radiation fluxes at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) and the surface and radiation divergence within the atmosphere. The fluxes at TOA are to be retrieved to an accuracy of 2%. Improved bidirectional reflectance distribution functions (BRDFs) have been developed to compute the fluxes at TOA from the measured radiances with errors reduced from ERBE by a factor of two or more. Instruments aboard the Terra and Aqua spacecraft provide sampling at four local times. In order to further reduce temporal sampling errors, data are used from the geostationary meteorological satellites to account for changes of scenes between observations by the CERES radiometers.

A validation protocol including in-flight calibrations and comparisons of measurements has reduced the instrument errors to less than %. The data are processed through three editions. The first edition provides a timely flow of data to investigators and the third edition provides data products as accurate as possible with resources available.

A suite of cloud properties retrieved from the MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) by the CERES team is used to identify the cloud properties for each pixel in order to select the BRDF for each pixel so as to compute radiation fluxes from radiances. Also, the cloud information is used to compute radiation at the surface and through the atmosphere and to facilitate study of the relationship between clouds and the radiation budget. The data products from CERES include, in addition to the reflected solar radiation and Earth emitted radiation fluxes at TOA, the upward and downward shortwave and longwave radiation fluxes at the surface and at various levels in the atmosphere. Also at the surface the photosynthetically active radiation and ultraviolet radiation (total, UVA and UVB) are computed. The CERES instruments aboard the Terra and Aqua spacecraft have served well past their design life times. A CERES instrument has been integrated onto the NPP platform and is ready for launch in 2011. Another CERES instrument is being built for launch in 2014, and plans are being made for a series of follow-on missions.

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Modeling Analysis and Prediction Program (MAP)