Science Seminars

1/8/2009 – Spectral resolution and spatial structure: Why are they necessary for accurate climate-relevant observations?

Speaker: K. Sebastian Schmidt, Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität Mainz Germany, LASP
Date: Thursday, Jan 08, 2009
Time: 4:00pm
Location: LSTB

Seminar Abstract:

Both spectral and spatial resolution of space- and airborne radiometers have increased tremendously over the last two decades. At the same time, climate, cloud, and radiative transfer models became considerably more accurate due to growing computing capabilities. The question arises: How much resolution and accuracy is needed for which application? In this context, “prioritization” of error sources is a keyword in current climate-related discussions. Some errors in our present understanding of the climate system are well-characterized and documented (for example in ICCP reports). Others may be underrated in their importance, partly because of lacking observations. I will present some of the reasons why we should care about resolution when tackling current issues in climate observations. I will then illustrate this with two specific examples from my own research. The first example introduces a hybrid model-measurement approach for quantifying the spectral radiative forcing of the so-called cloud-aerosol continuum (a much-discussed new concept), combining data from a NOAA field experiment and radiative transfer modeling at the LASP parallel computing facilities. The second shows how spectrally and spatially resolved field measurements from a current NASA experiment help unravel a 10-year old question: that of enhanced measured cloud absorption, unaccounted for by model calculations. In sum, I will explain why spectral and structural information is vital for improving our understanding of the climate system in future research and missions.