NASA Selects New Instrument to Continue Key Climate Record

From NASA

Feb. 26, 2020

RELEASE 20-020

NASA Selects New Instrument to Continue Key Climate Record

Earth’s outgoing longwave, or heat, radiation shown here as the average from 2000 to 2015

Earth’s outgoing longwave, or heat, radiation shown here as the average from 2000 to 2015 were measured by the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instruments on NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites. Bright yellow and orange indicate high heat emission, purple and blue indicate intermediate emissions, and white shows little or no heat emission.

Credits: NASA

NASA has selected a new space-based instrument as an innovative and cost-effective approach to maintaining the 40-year data record of the balance between the solar radiation entering Earth’s atmosphere and the amount absorbed, reflected, and emitted. This radiation balance is a key factor in determining our climate: if Earth absorbs more heat than it emits, it warms up; if it emits more than it absorbs, it cools down.

The new instrument, named Libera, is NASA’s first mission selected in response to the 2017 National Academies’ Earth Science Decadal Survey. The project’s principal investigator is Peter Pilewskie of the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder, Colorado.

“This highly innovative instrument introduces a number of new technologies such as advanced detectors that will improve the data we collect while maintaining continuity of these important radiation budget measurements,” said Sandra Cauffman, acting director of the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Libera will measure solar radiation with wavelengths between 0.3 and 5 microns reflected by the Earth system and infrared radiation with wavelengths between 5 and 50 microns emitted from the Earth system as it exits the top of the atmosphere. The sensor will also measure the total radiation leaving the Earth system at all wavelengths from 0.3 to 100 microns. An innovative additional “split shortwave” channel measuring radiation between 0.7 and 5 microns has been added to enable new Earth radiation budget science.

These wavelength ranges allow scientists to understand changes to Earth’s climate system such as whether the planet is getting brighter or darker, and heating up or cooling down. The data will be available publicly following a brief checkout and commissioning period.

The new instrument was selected competitively from four proposals considered under NASA’s first Earth Venture Continuity opportunity, a new type of investigation in this class. NASA Earth Venture missions are led by principal investigators, competitively selected, and are cost- and schedule-constrained.

Earth Venture Continuity missions focus on demonstrating innovative, low-cost approaches to maintaining targeted measurements important to the Earth science community in an unbroken and consistent way. The National Academies’ Decadal Survey recommended this new way to continue existing measurements of vital importance over the long term.

Libera is named after the daughter of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture. The name acknowledges the relationship between this new mission and the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instruments that currently make the radiation balance measurements that Libera will continue. Six CERES instruments are currently collecting data on NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites.

The new research instrument will fly on NOAA’s operational Joint Polar Satellite System-3 (JPSS-3) satellite, which is scheduled to launch by December 2027.

Earth Venture missions are managed by the Earth System Science Pathfinder program, located at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.

For more information about the Earth Venture program, visit:

https://essp.nasa.gov

NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives, and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

For more information about NASA’s Earth science activities, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/earth

-end-

62 thoughts on “NASA Selects New Instrument to Continue Key Climate Record

  1. Maybe after a few decades of collecting and analyzing this new data source, it will provide understanding of how the oceans store and release heat to influence global temperatures.
    Until then it’s probably just another tool of weather weaponization.

    • Good observation.

      Google has a Hadley cell upwelling at the equator and downwelling at around 30° poleward. I can identify where Miami is on the graphic and it is 26°N, and that’s about where the red band starts. It looks like a pretty good match to me.

    • Also look the Arctic. One light blue region stands out: Greenland, solid ice. The Arctic ocean above has higher mean energy outflow.

      Whatever happened to the “more water = more heat input” , run away +ve feedback hypothesis?

      If the fact the sea ice extent is still essentially the same as it was in the OMG year of 2007, here is the formal proof that more open water radiates MORE heat to space than solid ice cover.

    • One has to exercise care in drawing too many conclusions from the single CERES image given in the above article because:
      1) It is stated to be an “average from 2000 to 2015”, but
      2) Is it a 24/7/365 average?, or
      3) Is it a just a composite of Earth’s surface when only illuminated by the Sun, and if so over what Sun position-referenced hours?, or
      4) Is it just a composite of Earth’s surface at nighttime, and if so over what Sun position-referenced hours?, and
      5) What is the actual atmospheric column depth being imaged? Does the image include LWIR off ocean and land surfaces or only off the atmosphere? If surface radiation is included, how is that radiation adjusted for atmospheric absorption/attenuation versus, say, radiation off TOA?

      Considering seasonal variations (e.g., winter vs. summer in each hemisphere), I am surprised at the relatively sharp definition and persistent of some of the small “structures” (e.g., small blue features north of Australia) seen in this composite image . . . I imagined there would have been much greater smearing of features over the course of 15 years!

  2. CERES has clearly showed that most of the heat loss is over regions where air descends and most heat is retained over areas where the air ascends. Maybe someday climastrologists will stop standing on their head and realize they have the null hypothesis wrong.

    • What null hypothesis?
      Kevin Tremberth reckons the agw conjecture doesn’t need a null hypothesis.

      • Because clearly stating such would raise an eyebrow or two that the consensus hypothesis doesn’t consider their to be any friction between the surface and atmosphere or there to ever be conductive heating from a warmer atmosphere on a colder surface.

      • Kevin Tremberth has admitted the radiation window is wrong but has not bother to correct his heat balance. If one puts in the correct figure from stellite measurements of 66 w/m2 then there is no need for the false assumption of back radiation. There is no back radiation. CO2 plays no part in the global balance of heat transfer. This is supported by temperature change leading CO2 change at all ages from 1 day, seasonal, 22 year cycles, put top 1000’s years cycles (as found in ice cores). CO2 absorption and emissions in oceans are control by sea surface temperatures.

      • Trenberth thinks the null hypothesis is that catastrophic global warming is occurring & will eventually destroy Mother Gaia unless humans are reduced to stone-age technology & numbers.

    • There is a red band along the equator where the (Hadley cell) air ascends and a yellow band, which is hotter, and another red band at approx. 30° poleward, where the (Hadley cell) air descends.

      • There is also a negative imbalance at the horse latitudes where the Hadley Cells descend.

        10 Year Net

        Very little heat is transported from the equator to the poles directly within the atmosphere itself, most of that is done via ocean currents.

    • Null hypothesis? We don’t have no null hypothesis. I don’t have to show you no stinking null hypothesis! We just ‘adjust’ the temperature records! /s

      The classic video clip, from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre:
      https://youtu.be/4OcM23Hbs5U

  3. “NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives, and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing”

    That’s nice but they should stick to their role of data collecter and be an unbiased data provider without getting involved in anti fossil fuel activism.

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/02/20/nasa-climate/

  4. NASA Selects New Instrument to Continue Key Climate Record
    … These wavelength ranges allow scientists to understand changes to Earth’s climate system such as whether the planet is getting brighter or darker, and heating up or cooling down.

    And the answer will be: Heating up faster than previously thought.

  5. Emissivity & the Heat Balance

    Emissivity is defined as the amount of radiative heat leaving a surface to the theoretical maximum or BB radiation at the surface temperature. The heat balance defines what enters and leaves a system, i.e.
    Incoming = outgoing, W/m^2 = radiative + conductive + convective + latent
    Emissivity = radiative / total W/m^2 = radiative / (radiative + conductive + convective + latent)
    In a vacuum (conductive + convective + latent) = 0 and emissivity equals 1.0.

    In open air full of molecules other transfer modes reduce radiation’s share and emissivity, e.g.:
    conduction = 15%, convection =35%, latent = 30%, radiation & emissivity = 20%

    The Instruments & Measurements

    But wait, you say, upwelling LWIR power flux is actually measured.

    Well, no it’s not.

    IR instruments, e.g. pyrheliometers, radiometers, etc. don’t directly measure power flux. They measure a relative temperature compared to heated/chilled/calibration/reference thermistors or thermopiles and INFER a power flux using that comparative temperature and ASSUMING an emissivity of 1.0. The Apogee instrument instruction book actually warns the owner/operator about this potential error noting that ground/surface emissivity can be less than 1.0.

    That this warning went unheeded explains why SURFRAD upwelling LWIR with an assumed and uncorrected emissivity of 1.0 measures TWICE as much upwelling LWIR as incoming ISR, a rather egregious breach of energy conservation.

    This also explains why USCRN data shows that the IR (SUR_TEMP) parallels the 1.5 m air temperature, (T_HR_AVG) and not the actual ground (SOIL_TEMP_5). The actual ground is warmer than the air temperature with few exceptions, contradicting the RGHE notion that the air warms the ground.

    • “The actual ground is warmer than the air temperature with few exceptions…”

      makes sense, although I had difficulties following all the complexity in your explanation.
      Radiation from Andes Mountains is very low, why is that?
      Is it because of cold ground temperature due to elevation, or high average humidity, or low convection rate, or a combination, or something else.

      If Nick Schroeder is right and the involved scientists have not fully understood the measuring technique involved, I foresee difficulties in drawing useful conclusions from these data. Hopefully this discrepancy will have been resolved before the final phase of the project.

      As for the temperature of the Earth: Neither the polar bears nor I care very much about a tenth of a degree, colder or warmer, per decade. So, may I suggest cancelling the project and use the money to build one or more fossil fueled power stations in Africa. The relieved researchers could be utilized to help developing environmentally and economical friendly methods for the decommission/tilting of soon aging wind turbines.

      • If Nick Schroeder is right and the involved scientists have not fully understood the measuring technique involved, I foresee difficulties in drawing useful conclusions from these data.

        Oh, Nick is right, but have no fear. They’ll have no trouble at all in “drawing useful conclusions” from the “data.” They will al be wrong, of course, but supportive of the propaganda.

      • “Radiation from Andes Mountains is very low,”

        Kirchoff observed that absorptivity = emissivity. Basic energy conservation, i.e. a surface cannot radiate more than it absorbed. It can emit LESS than it absorbed, emissivity less than 1.0, when a non-radiative contiguous participating media is involved.

        High albedo due to ice and snow means less absorbed and less emitted.

        High winds accelerate conduction and convection which lowers surface temperature and radiative loss.

        It seems some believe that non-radiative and radiative heat transfer processes are independent.

        As I have demonstrated by experiment they are co- and inter- dependent. That’s why the 396 W/m^2 BB LWIR upwelling on the K-T and ubiquitous clones cannot be real.

        https://www.linkedin.com/posts/nicholas-schroeder-55934820_climatechange-climate-science-activity-6611673792517337088-VTCm

        • “High albedo due to ice and snow means less absorbed and less emitted.”

          You are making the spurious assumption that absorptivity at solar wavelengths is the same as emissivity at LWIR. That is not the case.

          • Greg,

            Why does it matter?

            ISR W/m^2 * (1 – albedo) = ASR W/m^2

            Surface Emissivity = LWIR W/m^2 upwelling from surface / ASR W/m^2 = 63/160

            The surface cannot absorb more than the sum of the pieces.

            63/396 is not possible.

            What does wavelength have to do with it?

          • Kirchoff observed that absorptivity = emissivity.

            At the SAME wavelength. Don’t misstate what established laws say !

            a surface cannot radiate more than it absorbed.

            Wrong, it can freeze or melt. That is how ice area changes.

            It can emit LESS than it absorbed, emissivity less than 1.0

            When you are talking about different wavelengths and a system which is not in steady state, this is NOT how emissivity is defined.

            Learn the basics before attempting to make such assertions like you are explaining something to your reader.

            Why does it matter if you talk out of your hat? I don’t know, you’ll have to work that one out for yourself.

    • Emissivity = radiative / total W/m^2 = radiative / (radiative + conductive + convective + latent)

      Please try to avoid just making shit up and redefining things you do not research properly.

      In a vacuum (conductive + convective + latent) = 0 and emissivity equals 1.0.

      No.

      • Greg,

        In a vacuum emissivity = absorptivity. Radiation is the only path for energy to emit from the surface.

        Takes more than “No.” esp in the face of experimental evidence.

        • What are you, Zoe Phin’s twin brother?

          You have no experimental evidence you are just writing ignorant nonsense. You do not understand the basics. Go and do some reading.

          For a start you are omitting sensible heat. I guess that does not matter if you are not trying to make sense !

          Emissivity does not equal one, because vacuum. That is not the way it is defined.

          Again, please go an learn what you are talking about before coming and making assertive statements which are rubbish.

          • “For a start you are omitting sensible heat. I guess that does not matter if you are not trying to make sense !”

            That there is funny.

        • The following table gives the solar absorptivity (alpha) and corresponding surface emissivity (epsilon) at equilibrium temperatures (range of 230-540 K) for various coatings applied to decoy balloons in vacuum conditions:

          Surface coating_________alpha______episilon______alpha/epislon
          white TiO2 coating______0.19________0.94 ___________0.20
          white epoxy coating_____0.248_______0.924__________0.27
          white enamel____________0.252_______0.853__________0.30
          polyester film____________0.17________0.5____________0.34
          Al-Si coating_____________0.25________0.28___________0.89
          grey TiO2________________0.87________0.87___________1.00
          black paint_______________0.975______0.874__________1.12
          Al-based coatings_______0.54________0.45___________1.20
          Aquadag coatings_______0.782_______0.49___________1.60
          aluminum foil___________0.192_______0.036_________5.33
          polished gold coating___0.301_______0.028________10.8
          (source: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Visible-light-absorptivity-infrared-emissivity-and-equilibrium-temperature-of-various_tbl1_328994550 )

          As can been seen, it is wildly incorrect to assume “emissivity = absorptivity” for all materials, especially considering the different “color” temperatures between a solar spectrum and a typical warm body LWIR spectrum

    • Am I being naive here; but why can’t we have a satellite that measures total incoming radiation concurrent with the upwelling? This would provide a real time net balance figure as a base for further calculations. Surely matters of temperature and consequences come after this basic information?

    • The Apogee instrument instruction book actually warns the owner/operator about this potential error noting that ground/surface emissivity can be less than 1.0.

      The ground emissivity has nothing to do with the flux measurement at the instrument, what are you talking about?

      • The instrument doesn’t measure flux, it measures temperature and assumes an emissivity to get flux.

        • Where is the temperature it is measuring , on the ground ?!

          Maybe you should quote directly from this handbook it seems that you have since you clearly are not accurately transmitting what it actually says.

    • “The Instruments & Measurements

      But wait, you say, upwelling LWIR power flux is actually measured.

      Well, no it’s not.

      IR instruments, e.g. pyrheliometers, radiometers, etc. don’t directly measure power flux. They measure a relative temperature compared to heated/chilled/calibration/reference thermistors or thermopiles and INFER a power flux using that comparative temperature and ASSUMING an emissivity of 1.0.”

      This has bothered me for quite some time now—what are the instruments used in these satellites?

      A related issue is that ideally these quantities should be measured as spectral irradiances. The broadband irradiances (eq. “LWIR”) are added and subtracted without consideration of their spectral nature.

  6. Launching in December, 2027? That has to be after 97% of the predictions we are all toast. Why not cancel the mission and put the money into one last big goodbye party (if the coronavirus doesn’t get you first).

    • That also sounds way too late to have a cross-calibration period with CERES. I don’t know the dates and project expected lifetime but I doubt CERES on Aqua and Terra will still be operational from 2027-28.

      There really is little point in having disjointed , piecemeal climate records when you are trying to monitor interdecadal changes in climate !

      But then they now that, this is not the first satellite change over they have had to plan for. That suggests they are doing this deliberately because they cannot afford to have a continous, cross-calibrated record .

    • nCov is another scare story like AGW , to get the population used to marshal law and lockdown.

  7. How do they know how much radiation is absorbed by photosynthesis and similar processes?

    • They don’t. And then there is the changing dynamic of plains vs forest, desert vs arable land area, cloud cover over open ocean vs land, yada, yada, yada…… The geologic evidence is that we are in an ice age (one or both poles covered in ice) and the more prevalent condition has been a hot house earth.

      When you can’t quantify all the variables and feedback mechanisms, your efforts are futile for predictive value.

    • I was going to say/query something about this before I read your comment.
      The device mentioned in the 300 to 500 nm range may well be specifically designed to work in this window. Maybe even for that reason. (It’s probably not unrelated that evolution has also managed to largely optimize photosynthesis in the visible spectrum in order to capture the most energy).

      If the article had been written by a real science journalist they might have discussed this topic. But, hey-ho, I guess global warming is what pays the bills these days. And mentioning how CO2 is greening the planet may cost you a number of friends and at least one job at NASA.

  8. The article neglected to identify the contractor responsible for design, fabrication, test and delivery of the instrument: BALL AEROSPACE & TECHNOLOGIES CORP

    The chief technologist for Ball is a regular here and has applied as an editor for AR6. I haven’t heard back yet….

  9. Another OCO-2 type satellite costing $millions that will be ignored unless the data can be mangled enough to prove AGW? Why am I so cynical when data about our planet is important to science? Probably because I know the reasons/excuses being used to launch this satellite have nothing to do with science and everything to do with proving AGW true.

    • This also caused me to think about OCO-2 satellite. What’s the good of having a satellite, if it never releases any of its data?

      Maybe someone should ask NASA is they plan on making any of Libera’s data available to the public.

      • Maybe they’ll send John Glenn’s corpse up into space when they need more money/ public image.

  10. I have noticed that there is considerable discrepancy between the data for precipitable water coming from Aqua and Terra satellites.

    Can anyone explain the reason for this?

    I appreciate the earth observation data that NASA provides free to the global community. It is a great service and I have thanked them for it.

    Maybe one day there will be a simple radiation flux meter that can scan the globe onboard a satellite to provide the energy balance directly rather than the complex deciphering involved in teasing power flux from spectrum analysis.

    • “Can anyone explain the reason for this?”

      More water on Aqua ?

      “I appreciate the earth observation data that NASA provides free to the global community. ”
      It’s not free, it’s paid for they US taxpayers. That is why it is public domain.

      As all NASA data and images should be ( in theory ).

      • I should have stated “free to me”. As far as I know I do not contribute any money to the US government. And I should have thanked US taxpayers. The world takes for granted the contributions the US taxpayers have made to the quality of life in the rest of the world. Internet, GPS, global security, weather/climate data to name a few of the big ones. Then there are the commercial ventures that come at lower cost to the rest of the world due to the large US market; computer hardware, computer software, film production, streaming services, air transport and so forth.

  11. The TERRA and AQUA satellites are in a particular kind of polar orbit that always cross the equator at the same local time of day, every day of the year. IIRC, one crosses at 9:30 am and the other at 2:30 pm ( and of course some time like 10 pm and 3 am on the night side.

    What bothers me most with this data is how do we know what goes on at local 11am, 12 noon, 1pm, and 5 pm? Think back to Willis’ Tropical Thermostat and cloud formation. A lot happens inside of an hour. The CERES data may be good, but I fear is is severely under sampling the daily variably with all Nyquist frequency cautions ignored.

    Where do they get noon data from?

    • My interest is in the absolute accuracy of water vapour determination. I do not expect that it changes much over the course of day for the two satellite passes. However the measurement is indirect, being based on absorption spectra. From my observation over recent years it appears Aqua and Terra differ by around 20%. Given that the water vapour is not varying much between each pass, it suggests there is large error in the actual determination of the water vapour content for both satellites.

  12. Will this be measuring at the ‘theoretical’ TOA, i.e. the one that AGW calculates, or the actual TOA where CO2 physically starts to emit radiation where the atmosphere thins out?

    The two points are at different heights aren’t they? And if they are, I’m not sure how the mechanism between the two works!

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