EarthCARE aims to quantify cloud-aerosol-radiation interactions so they may be included in climate and numerical weather forecasting models.
The scientific objectives of the mission are:
- To observe vertical profiles of natural and anthropogenic aerosols on a global scale, their radiative properties and interaction with clouds
- To observe vertical distributions of atmospheric liquid water and ice on a global scale, their transport by clouds and their radiative impact
- To observe cloud distribution, cloud-precipitation interactions and the characteristics of vertical motions within clouds
To retrieve profiles of atmospheric radiative heating and cooling through the combination of the retrieved aerosol and cloud properties.
EarthCARE measurements will link cloud, aerosols and radiation at a target accuracy of 10Wm-2.
The mission will achieve these objectives by measuring globally the vertical structure and horizontal distribution of cloud and aerosol fields together with outgoing radiation. Specifically, EarthCARE will measure:
- Properties of aerosol layers: occurrence, extinction profiles, boundary layer height, distinction of aerosol types
- Properties of cloud fields: cloud boundaries and multilayer clouds, height-resolved fractional cloud cover and overlap, occurrence of liquid/ice/super-cooled layers, vertical profiles of ice water content and effective particle size, vertical profiles of liquid water and effective droplet size, and small-scale (<1km) fluctuations of these properties
- Vertical velocities to characterise cloud convective motion and ice sedimentation
- Drizzles rain rates and estimates of heavier rainfall rates
- Reflected solar and emitted thermal radiances at the top of the atmosphere.