2011-09-14 20:16:26Series on remote sensing.earth observation - anyone know much about this?
Mark Richardson

I'm planning a series on Remote Sensing for Earth Observation with a snappier title. The tech and results are awesome and it could be a really positive way of showing the piles of evidence.

I imagine each post explains how the measurements are taken, what we expect with global warming and then a graph of the results and a summary in a green box e.g. 'Satellites measure sea levels rising'.

The atmospheric temperatures articles are so important that I think they would need to be prepared first, but my knowledge of sounding is patchy. My work is snow remote sensing - if anyone knows lots about anything else then would you be interested in helping me out?


My current plan is:

Atmospheric temperatures (lower atm)
Atmospheric temperatures (higher atm)
Sea surface temperatures
Snow extent
Glacier tracking
Sea ice
Greenland/Antarctica ice mass
Radiation spectrum
Radiation balance
Sea level rise
Solar activity
Water vapour
Solar output
(precip/soil moisture/salinity7?)
{future missions? Cryosat, SMOS, EarthCare, ADM-Aeoleus...)


Anything I miss?

And possibly end with a big 'infographic' if someone with illustrator skills wants to help. We talk about how the evidence is more like a puzzle, whilst the 'skeptics' write as if it's a house of cards. So perhaps a big puzzle with each piece being one of the pieces of evidence.

Really I think it would make an awesome interactive piece of software - a few missing pieces highlighted with how we plan to fill them (e.g. 'sea ice thickness -> cryosat', 'snow mass -> CoReH2O')  and different coloured pieces based on 'satellite', 'other measurement', 'model'... but I couldn't inflict that project on anyone :P

2011-09-14 20:17:56
Mark Richardson

Or instead of a puzzle, a web...


Also, I think it could be good timing. It looks like Bremen will announce a new record minimum in Arctic sea ice, NSIDC will announce 2nd ranking minimum. We could have a post explaining the reasons why they differ (resolution, basically) and use it to lead to the series...

But I probably need some help on the atmospheric sounding measurements!

2011-09-14 20:37:00


It looks very much like a PhD project applied to a blog!
It's a great project but I find the tech part (raw measurements and data analysis) really hard. It all depends on the level of details we want to consider.

2011-09-14 21:05:46
Mark Richardson

I was thinking of going for a pretty simple level to try and stop myself from making too many mistakes. More of a 'isn't this satellite cool? This is an idea of how the scientists do measurements and these are the results...'

I'm working for the National Centre for Earth Observation and we're all expected to do outreach so, idd, it will be part of a PhD project ;)



I was at the NCEO conference last week and there's just so much exciting stuff being done and I haven't seen a good overview of climate change linked to all the satellite observations before. The '10 reasons...' bits on SkS are good, but incomplete.


EDIT: oh, and one of the standout performers at the conference was CryoSat. According to their measurements it's doing an awesome job in most places, but they commented that it appears to be overestimating ice thickness by about 1.5 metres in some areas (particularly the thick stuff close to land)... so perhaps the graph the PR people made them release will need to be updated.

2011-09-14 21:14:52
Rob Painting

What about aerosols? Sounds cool, but a lot of work.

JG should be able to help with the illustrations. I'm teaching myself illustration and short animation, but it's slow going.  

2011-09-14 21:16:00
Rob Painting


2011-09-14 21:20:52
Mark Richardson

I was going to use GRACE as the centrepiece for the Greenland/Antarctic ice mass balance.

But I need to check that my simplified understanding isn't so simple that it's wrong before I post on that! Same for the sounding stuff. And glaciology is just such a dense field that I'm not sure I wouldn't miss something important... so any advice would be appreciated. Worst case I'll just ask guys who work on it. :)

2011-09-15 00:59:01comment
Robert Way


I wouldn't mind helping you out Mark. My work has focused on Cryosperic Remote Sensing particularly with relevance to Glaciers and Ice Sheets. In fact my masters thesis is on the subject.

2011-09-15 08:24:00
Glenn Tamblyn



This is a rebuttal I did some time ago looking at sat measurements of air temperature in the troposphere. It might be useful, particularly the links. Don't kow anything about upper atmosphere measurements - Ionosphere etc - but they may use the same techniques. The more recent satellites carry sounders for quite a range of altitudes.

Agree with Rob, GRACE is important because it is SO WAY COOL. Not 1 satellite but two working in tandem.

And Aerosols because it is the missing link that is so important. We actually need to get a bird up succesfully. Maybe even slip in that Dick Cheney organised to get the Glory mission cancelled and they stored the satellite in a warehouse - boo hiss - before it was reactivated under Obama. Then failed at launch!

2011-09-15 17:49:58
Paul D


"Maybe even slip in that Dick Cheney organised to get the Glory mission cancelled and they stored the satellite in a warehouse - boo hiss - before it was reactivated under Obama. Then failed at launch!"

Was Cheney hunting nearby when Glory failed to launch?     :-)

2011-09-15 17:57:38
Ari Jokimäki


You missed couple of important things: greenhouse gases (other than water vapor) and clouds - perhaps also air pollution in general and dust (although I'm not sure if dust is measured remotely but surely it must be).

2011-09-15 17:59:03
Ari Jokimäki


Oh, and another addition: weather.

2011-09-15 18:45:57
Rob Painting

Ari, I remember glancing over some very recent papers on satellite observations of dust. Of course I wouldn't be able to find them now.

2011-09-17 01:29:18
Mark Richardson

Someone down my corridor works on dust, I just asked her and (rough translation):

we can tell where it is & its optical depth. Calypso & cloudsat might be able to give vertical profiles. We can also estimate the particle size.




I wanted to focus this very much on climate & those 14 show clear-as-day climate signals. The radiation spectrum will give CO2 & CH4 (mainly the Harries, 2001 & associated papers).

Is there a big climate signal in dust? Not afaik. And I wanted to concentrate very much on the climate of it. First post is in the blog forum. :)

2011-09-17 04:11:43
Ari Jokimäki


You still don't have clouds in there (unless it's included in albedo), which is a big climate issue.

I also think there's lot more to remotely sensing GHG's than Harries et al. papers. Especially interesting are missions for global mapping of GHG concentrations, which is something that has been just starting in recent years. Actually, I think that Harries et al. studies are just a sidenote in the radiation spectrum research.

My understanding of dust is that it has much potential to be important climatic factor but there doesn't seem to be much evidence that it actually has caused large climate changes. But I should look into it more as I really don't know the current scientific understanding of dust.