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Ensuring the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOES-R Spacecraft : Elements of a Strategy to Recover Measurement Capabilities Lost in Program Restructuring. Antonio J. Busalacchi, Jr. Director, Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center University of Maryland, College Park.

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Ensuring the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOES-R Spacecraft: Elements of a Strategy to Recover Measurement Capabilities Lost in Program Restructuring

Antonio J. Busalacchi, Jr.

Director, Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center

University of Maryland, College Park

i background and charge
I. Background and Charge
  • Present Report—NASA and NOAA Asked Committee To:
    • “Prioritize capabilities, especially those related to climate research, that were lost or placed at risk following recent changes to NPOESS and the GOES-R series of polar and geostationary environmental monitoring satellites…; and”
    • “Present strategies to recover these capabilities”
  • “Options to Ensure the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOES-R Spacecraft”: 3-day workshop in June 2007
    • Workshop report summarized proceedings, but did not provide findings or recommendations
    • “In conducting its assessment, the committee will build on information from the workshop that will be conducted in June 2007 by the separately appointed NRC Panel on Options to Ensure the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOES-R Spacecraft and on the panel’s report expected to be issued in August 2007.”
  • NRC Decadal Survey, Earth Science and Applications from Space: January 2007
    • Report largely completed prior to June 2006 Nunn-McCurdy actions and Sept. 2006 cancelation of HES on GOES-R
    • “Included in this assessment will be the committee’s analysis of the capabilities and timeliness of the portfolio of missions recommended in the 2007 Earth Science and Applications from Space decadal survey to recover these capabilities, especially those related to research on Earth’s climate, and the potential role of existing and planned spacecraft operated by international partners and the role of existing and planned civil U.S. spacecraft.”
june 2006 nunn mccurdy certification
June 2006—Nunn-McCurdy Certification
  • Planned acquisition of 6 spacecraft reduced to 4
  • Three sun-synchronous orbit planes reduced to two; use of European Meteorological Operational (MetOp) satellites to provide data for the canceled mid-morning orbit
  • Launch of first NPOESS spacecraft delayed until 2013
  • Program refocused on “core” requirements related to the acquisition of data to support numerical weather prediction
  • Several sensors were canceled (in common parlance, “demanifested”) or degraded (“descoped”) in capability
  • “Secondary” (non-core) sensors that would provide crucial continuity to certain long-term climate records, as well as other sensors that would have provided new measurement capabilities, were not funded in the certified NPOESS program
measurements sensors the committee considered relevant to climate science
Measurements/Sensors the Committee Considered Relevant to Climate Science
  • With respect to changes in the NPOESS program:
    • Aerosol Properties and the Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor (APS)
    • Earth Radiation Budget and the Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System/Earth Radiation Budget Sensor (CERES/ERBS)
    • Hyperspectral Diurnal Coverage and the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS)
    • Microwave Radiometry and the Conical Scanning Microwave Imager/Sounder (CMIS),
    • Ocean Color and the Visible/Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite (VIIRS)
    • Ozone Profiles and the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite-Limb (OMPS-L) Sensor
    • Radar Altimetry and the ALT Sensor
    • Total Solar Irradiance and the Total Solar Irradiance Monitor (TIM)/Spectrally Resolved Irradiance and the Solar Spectral Irradiance Monitor (SIM).
  • With respect to changes in the GOES-R program:
    • Geostationary Hyperspectral Sounding and the HES Sensor
    • Geostationary Coastal Waters Imagery and the HES-CWI Sensor
working definition of climate
Working Definition of Climate
  • Consistent with the CCSP, the Committee understood “climate” to be “the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant measures of the atmosphere–ocean system over periods of time ranging from weeks to thousands or millions of years”.
  • The Committee interpreted the information needed for climate research broadly to be that which enables:
    • Detection of variations in climate (through long-term records)
    • Climate predictions and projections
    • Improved understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological processes involved in climate variability and change.
ground rules for prioritization
Ground Rules for Prioritization
  • The objective of the committee’s deliberations would be to prioritize for the restoration of climate capabilities. For example, although a sensor with the capability to improve resolution of fast climate processes is of interest to both the weather forecasting and the climate research communities, it is the value to the latter that would inform the committee’s ranking.
  • The particular strategy for recovery and the cost of recovery of a measurement/sensor would not be a factor in the ranking. The committee did not have access to the ongoing NASA-NOAA study for OSTP that is examining the cost of various recovery strategies.
  • Measurements/sensors on NPOESS would not be ranked against measurements/sensors on GOES-R; however, the criteria used in ranking measurements/sensors for either program would be identical.
  • When it was relevant, the measurement objectives of a particular sensor, and not the sensor itself, would be the basis for consideration. Thus, for example, members of the committee considered the importance of radar altimetry to climate science, rather than the importance of the particular implementation of this capability on NPOESS—that is, the ALT instrument.
prioritization process
Prioritization Process
  • Before restructuring, each of the lost or degraded measurement capabilities had been consideredboth practicable and of high importance. However, given that a wholesale reversal of the program changes was not feasible, it became thecommittee’s difficult task to provide a prioritized set of recommendations for restoration of climatemeasurement capabilities.
results of 2 separate prioritizations

NPOESS(LEO)

GOES-R(GEO)

Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3

Tier 4

Increasing Priority

Results of 2 Separate Prioritizations*

*Based on needs of climate science w/o considering cost

summary of issues noted by june 2007 workshop participants
Summary of Issues Noted by June 2007 Workshop Participants
  • Preservation of long-term climate records
    • Demanifesting of climate sensors from NPOESS has placed many long-term climate records at risk, including multidecadal records of total solar irradiance, Earth radiation budget, sea surface temperature, and sea ice extent.
  • The potential benefits of relatively minor and low-cost changes to the NPOESS program
    • For example, improving prelaunch characterization and documentation of all NPOESS instruments, adding minor software improvements to VIIRS to make the data more climate-relevant, and downlinking full-resolution spectral data from the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) to enable creation of additional climate products.
  • The potential role of spacecraft formation flying in mitigation strategies
    • Formation flight can allow for the synergistic combination of measurements from multiple satellites, sometimes launched years apart.
  • Mitigation options beyond changes to NPOESS
    • For example, long-term records of sea level and ocean vector winds require different orbits and/or instruments to address critical climate observation needs.
  • The challenge of creating climate data records
    • Although NPP- and NPOESS-derived environmental data records (EDRs) may have considerable scientific value, climate data records are far more than a time series of EDRs
  • The specifications of the MIS instrument
    • Retain all-weather SST retrieval capability via 6.9 GHz channel
  • Sustaining climate observations
    • Balance between new and sustained climate observations and managing infusion of technology into long-term observational programs (including the challenges of doing so with a multispacecraft—block-buy—procurement).
    • Accommodating research needs within an operational program.
president s fy 09 budget addresses some of the committee and decadal survey recommendations
President’s FY 09 Budget Addresses Some of the Committee and Decadal Survey Recommendations
  • OSTP Press Release, 2/1/08: “The Administration has concluded that the highest near-term priorities are to sustain the datasets from three key climate measurement capabilities:
    • Total solar irradiance (measured by the Total Solar Irradiance Sensor, or TSIS);
    • Earth radiation budget data (from the Clouds and Earth Radiant Energy System sensor, or CERES); and
    • Ozone vertical profile data (from the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite Limb sensor, or OMPS-Limb).”
  • President’s FY09 Request Adds $74 M to NOAA
    • CERES: FM-5 will be flown on NASA’s NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite, set to launch in 2010, while another CERES instrument will be built for the first NPOESS satellite (currently planned for 2013 launch)
    • TSIS: FY09 funds will support instrument development and ongoing analyses to identify a suitable satellite platform for hosting this sensor, as well as beginning the necessary integration work for this effort…the Administration also has identified FY2008 funds required to execute this plan.
    • OMPS-Limb: Funding provided in 2007 to fly instrument on the NPP spacecraft.
restoration of climate capabilities on npoess spacecraft does not address an underlying problem
Restoration of Climate Capabilities on NPOESS Spacecraft Does Not Address An Underlying Problem
  • There are structural problems associated with the provision of climate-quality measurements from systems designed to meet national objectives more closely associated with the needs of the operational weather forecast community.
  • “There is a lack of clear agency responsibility for sustained research programs and the transitioning of proof-of-concept measurements into sustained measure-ment systems…The elimination of the requirements for climate research-related measurements on NPOESS is the most recent example of the failure to sustain critical measurements.” (From the Decadal Survey.)
npoess lacks essential features of a well designed climate observing system
NPOESS Lacks Essential Features of a Well-Designed Climate-Observing System
  • NPOESS program lacks a transparent program for monitoring sensor calibration and performance and for verifying the products of analysis algorithms. Moreover, it lacks the direct involvement of scientists who have heretofore played a fundamental role in developing climate-quality records from space-borne observations.
  • NOAA plans for scientific-data stewardship are in their infancy; their commitment to ensuring high-quality CDRs remains untested and inadequately funded.
  • NPOESS does not ensure the overlap that is required to preserve climate data records (CDRs). Instead, the NPOESS system is designed for launch on failure of a few key sensors. Failure of NPOESS instruments required for CDRs will probably result in gaps of many months, which will make it difficult to connect long-term climate records and future measurements.
npoess lacks essential features of a well designed climate observing system con t
NPOESS Lacks Essential Features of a Well-Designed Climate-Observing System—Con’t
  • The NPOESS commitment to radiometric calibration is unclear, particularly for the VIIRS visible and near-infrared channels used to determine surface albedo, ocean color, cloud properties, and aerosol properties, with only preflight calibrations, leaving the in-orbit calibrations of those channels to drift. Furthermore, in its current configuration, VIIRS lacks the channels now on MODIS in the 6.3-μm band of water vapor used to detect clouds in polar regions and in the 4.3- and 15-μm bands of CO2 used to obtain cloud heights, particularly heights of relatively thin cirrus.
  • NPOESS only partly addresses the needed measurements of the strato-sphere and upper troposphere. The primary variables of the stratosphere--temperature, ozone abundance, and some aerosol properties--will not be provided by NPOESS, because of the loss of OMPS-L, APS, and CrIS/ATMS. Other elements are poorly addressed by NPOESS plans, notably measurements of upper-troposphere and stratosphere water vapor, aerosols, and the abundance of ozone-depleting compounds.
elements of a long term climate strategy a way forward
Elements of a Long-term Climate Strategy: A Way Forward
  • Sustained Climate Observations
    • A long-term climate strategy must provide for the essential characterization, calibration, stability, continuity, and data systems required to support climate applications.
  • National Policy for Provision of Long-term Climate Measurements
    • Much of climate science depends on long-term, sustained measurement records. Yet, as has been noted in many previous NRC and agency reports, the nation lacks a clear policy to address these known national and international needs.
  • Clear Agency Roles and Responsibilities
    • Institutions have responsibilities that are in many cases mismatched with their authorities and resources: institutional mandates are inconsistent with agency charters, budgets are not well matched to emerging needs, and shared responsibilities are supported inconsistently by mechanisms for cooperation.
elements of a long term climate strategy a way forward con t
Elements of a Long-term Climate Strategy: A Way Forward—Con’t
  • International Cooperation
    • The absence of an internationally agreed upon and ratified strategy for climate observations from space remains an area of grave concern. The research and operational agencies should coordinate their development, operations, standards, and products with international partners.
  • Community Involvement in the Development of Climate Data Records
    • The implied demise of climate-focused satellite observations from NPOESS, a consequence of the Nunn-McCurdy certification, adds to the ongoing concern about the lack of organized commitment to CDR development. It has been stressed in many NRC and other reports that generation of CDRs requires considerable scientific insight, including the blending of multiple sources of data; error analysis; and access to raw data.
restructuring the national polar orbiting operational environmental satellite system 2 1 2010
Restructuring the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System 2/1/2010
restructuring the national polar orbiting operational environmental satellite system 2 1 20101
Restructuring the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System 2/1/2010
  • Restructured 2006: Six main satellites in three orbits to four satellites in two orbits.
  • As of February, 2010, Air Force and NOAA will no longer jointly procure the polar orbiting satellite system known as NPOESS
  • NOAA and NASA have primary responsibility for afternoon orbit (Joint Polar Satellite System)
  • DOD will take primary responsibility for morning orbit
  • Shared ground systems
  • In near term DoD will continue with DMSP
  • NPOESS bus going away, NOAA will use a modified NPP bus
  • Unclear if DOD will fly a VIIR or MIS
restructuring the national polar orbiting operational environmental satellite system 2 1 20102
Restructuring the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System 2/1/2010
  • NOAA may rely on AMSR rather than fly a MIS
  • At present only two climate quality MW radiometers, AMSR-E on Aqua and Windsat on Coriolis
  • AMSR-2 to fly on GCOM-W but not before 2012

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restructuring the national polar orbiting operational environmental satellite system 2 1 20103
Restructuring the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System 2/1/2010