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P. Jonathan Gero
and
David D. Turner

Abstract

A trend analysis was applied to a 14-yr time series of downwelling spectral infrared radiance observations from the Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer (AERI) located at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program (ARM) site in the U.S. Southern Great Plains. The highly accurate calibration of the AERI instrument, performed every 10 min, ensures that any statistically significant trend in the observed data over this time can be attributed to changes in the atmospheric properties and composition, and not to changes in the sensitivity or responsivity of the instrument. The measured infrared spectra, numbering more than 800 000, were classified as clear-sky, thin cloud, and thick cloud scenes using a neural network method. The AERI data record demonstrates that the downwelling infrared radiance is decreasing over this 14-yr period in the winter, summer, and autumn seasons but it is increasing in the spring; these trends are statistically significant and are primarily due to long-term change in the cloudiness above the site. The AERI data also show many statistically significant trends on annual, seasonal, and diurnal time scales, with different trend signatures identified in the separate scene classifications. Given the decadal time span of the dataset, effects from natural variability should be considered in drawing broader conclusions. Nevertheless, this dataset has high value owing to the ability to infer possible mechanisms for any trends from the observations themselves and to test the performance of climate models.

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David D. Turner
,
P. Jonathan Gero
, and
David C. Tobin
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P. Jonathan Gero
,
John A. Dykema
, and
James G. Anderson

Abstract

Spaceborne measurements pinned to international standards are needed to monitor the earth’s climate, quantify human influence thereon, and test forecasts of future climate change. The International System of Units (SI, from the French for Système International d’Unités) provides ideal measurement standards for radiometry as they can be realized anywhere, at any time in the future. The challenge is to credibly prove on-orbit accuracy at a claimed level against these international standards. The most accurate measurements of thermal infrared spectra are achieved with blackbody-based calibration. Thus, SI-traceability is obtained through the kelvin scale, making thermometry the foundation for on-orbit SI-traceable spectral infrared measurements. Thermodynamic phase transitions are well established as reproducible temperature standards and form the basis of the international practical temperature scale (International Temperature Scale of 1990, ITS-90). Appropriate phase transitions are known in the temperature range relevant to thermal infrared earth observation (190–330 K) that can be packaged such that they are chemically stable over the lifetime of a space mission, providing robust and traceable temperature calibrations. A prototype blackbody is presented that is compact, highly emissive, thermally stable and homogeneous, and incorporates a small gallium melting point cell. Precision thermal control of the blackbody allows the phase transition to be identified to within 5 mK. Based on these results, the viability of end-to-end thermometric calibration of both single-temperature and variable-temperature blackbodies on orbit by employing multiple-phase-change cells was demonstrated.

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P. Jonathan Gero
,
John A. Dykema
, and
James G. Anderson

Abstract

Satellite measurements pinned to international standards are needed to monitor the earth’s climate, quantify human influence thereon, and test forecasts of future climate change. Credible observations require that measurement uncertainties be evaluated on orbit during a mission’s operational lifetime. The most accurate spaceborne measurements of thermal infrared radiance are achieved with blackbody calibration. The physical properties of blackbody cavity surface coatings are known to change upon extended exposure to the low earth orbit environment. Any such drift must be quantified to continue correctly calibrating observed radiance on orbit. A method is presented to diagnose the effective emissivity of a blackbody cavity in situ using a quantum cascade laser (QCL)-based reflectometer. QCLs provide high-power single-mode output in the thermal infrared and have small mechanical footprints that facilitate integration into existing optical systems. The laser reflectivity in a test blackbody cavity was measured to be 9.22 × 10−4 with an uncertainty of 8.9 × 10−5, which is equivalent to a detection limit of 3 mK in the error in radiance temperature for a calibration blackbody (at 330 K and 1000 cm−1) resulting from cavity emissivity drift. These results provide the experimental foundation for this technology to be implemented on satellite instruments and thus eliminate a key time-dependent systematic error from future measurements on orbit.

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Jongjin Seo
,
Timothy J. Wagner
,
P. Jonathan Gero
, and
David D. Turner

Abstract

Observing thermodynamic profiles within the planetary boundary layer is essential to understanding and predicting atmospheric phenomena because of the significant exchange of sensible and latent heat between the land and atmosphere within that layer. The Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer (AERI) is a ground-based infrared spectrometer used to obtain the vertical profiles of temperature and water vapor mixing ratio. Most AERIs are only capable of zenith views, although the Marine AERI (M-AERI) has a design that allows it to view various elevation angles. In this study, we quantify the improvement in the information content and accuracy of the retrieved profiles when nonzenith angles are included, as is common with microwave radiometer profilers. The impacts of the additional scan angles are quantified through both a synthetic study and with M-AERI observations from the ARM Cloud Aerosol Precipitation Experiment (ACAPEX) campaign. The simulation study shows that low elevation angles contain more information content for temperature whereas high elevation angles have more information content for water vapor. Outside of very humid environments, the addition of low elevation angles also results in lower root-mean-square errors when compared with high angles for both temperature and water vapor mixing ratio, although this is primarily a result of averaging multiple observations together to reduce instrument noise. Real-world results from the ACAPEX dataset indicate similar results as were found for the simulation study, although not all predicted benefits are realized because of the small sample size and observational uncertainties.

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