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Microwave Remote Sensing

FAAM BAe-146 on a snow emissivity flight over the tundra of the north slope of Alaska.

Airborne research using microwave radiometry which focuses on either the improvement of the assimilation of satellite data or development of future measurement techniques or missions.

The group uses the onboard microwave radiometers Deimos, MARSS  and ISMAR to study surface emission and atmospheric radiative transfer in both clear air and cloudy skies. Deimos measures microwave radiation at 23.8 and 50.3 GHz and was designed to estimate surface emission at frequencies used by the AMSU-A satellite instrument. MARSS is an AMSU-B/MHS simulator and thus has been used in the calibration and validation of both AMSU-B and MHS. MARSS has also been used to estimate surface emission as well as to study microwave atmospheric radiative transfer in clear and cloudy skies. MARSS is also used to monitor qualitatively changes in the total water column above the aircraft in support of other science objectives. ISMAR is an instrument which is currently under development and will measure radiation in the 200-1000 GHz frequency range. It will act as an airborne demonstrator for a possible future ESA satellite instrument which will monitor ice clouds.

Key Aims

  • Surface emissivity retrievals and testing of microwave emissivity models to improve assimilation of satellite microwave sounding in the future.
  • Surface emissivity studies to improve remote sensing of surface properties such as snow stratigraphy or soil water content.
  • Clear skies radiative transfer studies.
  • Cloudy skies radiative transfer to promote retrieval of cloud and precipitation properties remotely.
  • Calibration and validation of microwave atmospheric sounding instruments.

Current Projects

  • Analysis of snow covered land flight data from CLPX-II field campaign. This is probably the first testing of snowpack microwave emission models at AMSU-B frequencies.
  • Analysis of sea ice flight data from CLPX-II. Relating emissivities to snow stratigraphy and sea ice type. This may improve ocean-ice-atmospheric models in the future.
  • Development of the ISMAR instrument which will be installed in late 2010.

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