EarthCARE’s Broadband Radiometer: Uncertainties Associated with Cloudy Atmospheres Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractThe Earth Clouds, Aerosol and Radiation Explorer (EarthCARE) satellite’s Broadband Radiometer (BBR) consists of three telescopes and a rotating chopper drum (CD). Together they yield alternating measurements of total wave (TW; 0.25 to >50 μm) and shortwave (SW; 0.25–4 μm) radiances with point spread functions that translate to 0.6-km-diameter pixels. The mission requires that SW and TW radiances be averaged over 100-km2 domains. Correspondingly, the average longwave (LW) radiances are the differences between TW and SW averages. It is shown that impacts on domain-average nadir radiances resulting from alternating samples of TW and SW signals for realistic cloudy atmospheres are sensitive to the variance of cloudy-sky radiances, CD rotation rate, and along-track length of averaging domains. Over domains measuring 5 × 21 km2 and at a 50% rotation rate, uncertainties reached up to 3.2 and 4.1 W m−2 sr−1 for SW and TW radiances, respectively. The BBR’s design allows for in-flight alteration of the CD rate. An approximate method is provided for estimating SW and LW uncertainties resulting from the CD rate. While the nominal rotation rate meets EarthCARE’s mission requirements, reducing below 75% of that rate will lead to uncertainties for domain-average LW radiances that will often exceed mission requirements. This could be mitigated by increasing the size of averaging domains but that would compromise the BBR’s role in EarthCARE’s radiative closure assessment program. Uncertainties for off-nadir radiances are largely free of impacts arising from changes to the CD rotation rate.


  • Tornow, F
  • Barker, Howard
  • Blázquez, Velázquez
  • Domenech, C
  • Fischer, J

publication date

  • November 2018