Radiative transfer and remote sensing

The group uses the MARSS, ISMAR and ARIES radiometers on the FAAM aircraft to study surface emission and atmospheric radiative transfer in both clear air and cloudy skies. These instruments measure radiation in the microwave, sub-millimetre and infrared spectral ranges and are similar to ones used on current and/or future weather satellites. They can be used to develop novel techniques to improve the use of satellite data in numerical weather prediction as well as for validating the performance of space-based instruments and the development of new remote-sensing capability. Remote-sensing observations from the airborne radiometers can also be used to evaluate the performance of the Unified Model. The group develops a fast, flexible, Principal Component based radiative transfer code that is used for airborne studies, as well as offering the potential to increase the use of satellite data within operational weather forecasting.

Key aims

  • Improving the use of satellite data in numerical weather prediction through better understanding and modelling of surface emission, atmospheric absorption, and radiative transfer through clouds.
  • Developing and evaluating new remote-sensing techniques for future satellite instruments and model evaluation.
  • Collaboration with colleagues involved in satellite data assimilation to optimise the use of radiative transfer codes in operational weather forecasting.

Current projects

  • Using the ISMAR radiometer to improve our understanding of the interaction between atmospheric radiation and cloud ice in preparation for the Ice Cloud Imager that will be launched on the next generation of European polar-orbiting weather satellites.
  • Analysing observations from the MACSSIMIZE flight campaign based in Fairbanks in Alaska, with the aim of increasing the use of microwave satellite observations over snow-covered surfaces through better representation of the surface emissivity.
  • Implementing our Principal Component radiative transfer model into the operational forecast system, with the aim of improving the use of observations from hyperspectral infrared radiometers.