A workshop, dedicated to the Earth Explorer EarthCARE mission (Earth Clouds Aerosols and Radiation Explorer) held in Japan in July, brought together more than 50 scientists from Europe, Canada, Japan and the USA in order to discuss and analyse the science and technology underlying this mission.
This was the first workshop that has been held since EarthCARE was selected to undergo Phase A (feasibility study) following the User Consultation Meeting held in Granada in October 2001. The event proved to be a significant milestone in the progress of the mission and has led to a much clearer understanding and definition of the science involved.
Clouds are currently the biggest source of uncertainty in our understanding of climate prediction since it is not yet clear whether clouds actually have the general effect of cooling or warming the Earth. This is because high altitude clouds warm the Earth while clouds lower in the atmosphere contribute to cooling. To significantly improve accuracy in climate prediction it is necessary to acquire global datasets of vertical profiles of clouds and aerosols along with temperature and humidity fields simultaneously, as well as the radiances at the top of the atmosphere, and then check that numerical atmospheric circulation models are accurate. This is the main aim of the joint Japanese-European EarthCARE mission.
The 2-day EarthCARE Workshop proved to be very successful and stimulated important discussions, which contributed greatly to the advancement of the science underlying mission – particularly in the development of algorithms to retrieve the geophysical quantities from the instrument measurements and the coordination of the efforts of the scientific communities. Presentations covered many aspects of the mission, such as results of science studies, technological developments, measurement campaign results and other related space missions
The next milestone for the EarthCARE mission will be the preparation of the Report for Selection to be ready for the next ESA Earth Explorer Candidate Core Mission User Consultation meeting.