Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Satellite will launch in 2015 to measure Earth's radiation budget for the first time

A satellite scheduled to launch in 2015 will "measure the absolute imbalance in the Earth's radiation budget for the first time, giving scientists valuable information to study our climate," i.e. whether increased greenhouse gases have caused an imbalance of approximately 1% in Earth's radiation budget. 

Climate models have long predicted that the Earth's radiation budget should demonstrate heat "trapping" by CO2 to allegedly reduce outgoing longwave radiation to space. However, observations have instead shown the opposite of an increase in outgoing longwave radiation over the past 62 years, which proves that there is no observational evidence for influence of CO2 on past or future climate.

Artist rendering of the Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) satellite, a new, low-cost cubesat mission led by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. RAVAN will demonstrate technology needed to measure the absolute imbalance in the Earth's radiation budget for the first time; the cubesat is scheduled for launch in 2015. 

RAVAN to Help Solve an Earth Science Mystery

Dec. 10, 2013 — A new, low-cost cubesat mission led by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. will demonstrate technology needed to measure the absolute imbalance in Earth's radiation budget for the first time, giving scientists valuable information to study our climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) satellite, scheduled for launch in 2015, will demonstrate how accurate and wide-ranging measurements of Earth's outgoing radiation can be made with a remarkably small instrument. The RAVAN team includes partners at Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Ma.; L-1 Standards and Technology in New Windsor, Md.; and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

"Under stable climate conditions, the energy from the sun reaching the top of Earth's atmosphere and that being reflected or radiated to space are equal," explains Bill Swartz, an atmospheric scientist at APL and RAVAN principal investigator. "There is substantial evidence that they are not equal, and that difference is known as Earth's radiation imbalance (ERI). It's a really small number -- a difference thought to be less than one percent -- but that imbalance drives the future of climate change. RAVAN will demonstrate how ERI can be unambiguously and affordably quantified from space, enabling a huge leap in our ability to predict the future climate."

RAVAN will use a small, accurate radiometer, developed at L-1 Standards and Technology and not much larger than a deck of cards, to measure the strength of Earth's outgoing radiation across the entire spectrum of energy -- from the ultraviolet to the far infrared. "ERI is too small to be measured by previous, current, or planned future space assets," says co-investigator Warren Wiscombe, a climate scientist at Goddard.

The secret to RAVAN's precise measurements is a "forest" of carbon nanotubes, grown at APL, that serve as the radiometer's light absorber. "The carbon nanotubes are a very deep black across the energy spectrum, which will let the radiometer gather virtually all the light reflected and emitted from the planet," says Swartz.

RAVAN represents the first step toward a constellation of cubesats, each no larger than a loaf of bread, that would provide global coverage of Earth's total outgoing radiation throughout the day and night, and data to answer long-standing questions about Earth's climate future.

"RAVAN is unique because it's not only a technology demonstration, but a manufacturing and economic demonstration," says Draper Laboratory's Lars Dyrud, RAVAN project lead. "Resolving climate uncertainty and improved prediction of future climate change requires 30 to 40 RAVAN sensors. The cubesat revolution and advanced manufacturing offer the best hope for affordably achieving these urgent goals." Draper Laboratory is responsible for process engineering for RAVAN, with the goal of ensuring that the instrument design can be manufactured in a cost-effective manner.

RAVAN is the first Earth science cubesat built by APL. It is part of the Lab's ongoing development and refinement of these small, adaptable and cost-effective platforms for operational use. APL's first two cubesats carried technology demonstration payloads, and launched Nov. 19, 2013, aboard a Minotaur rocket from Wallops Island. The RAVAN mission is sponsored by NASA's Earth Science Technology Office, located at Goddard.

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

Related post from 3/4/13:

Man-made global warming theory is falsified by satellite observations

Global warming theory proposes that CO2 traps longwave (infrared) radiation in the troposphere to reduce outgoing longwave radiation [OLR] to space. However, satellite measurements since 1975 indicate that global OLR has instead increased by about 1.3 Wm-2. This is in direct contradiction to global warming theory that "trapping" of radiation by CO2 should have instead reduced* OLR by .93 Wm-2 since 1975. 
NOAA global outgoing longwave radiation [OLR] from annualized monthly means, via the KNMI Climate Explorer
In addition, the theory predicts the "trapping" of OLR should cause a "hot spot" in the tropical mid- upper troposphere to warm faster than the Earth surface. However, satellite observations are again contrary to the theory and instead show that the "hot spot" does not exist, that the mid-troposphere has warmed at the same rate as the surface, while the upper troposphere has cooled since 1979.

From Climate4you.com:
Diagram showing observed linear decadal temperature change at surface, 300 hPa and 200 hPa, between 20oN and 20oS, since January 1979. Data source:  HadAT and HadCRUT3Click here to compare with modelled altitudinal temperature change pattern for doubling atmospheric CO2. Last month included in analysis: March 2012. Last diagram update: 14 June 2012. 

The three diagrams above (using data from HadAT and HadCRUT3) show the linear trend of the temperature change since 1979 between 20oN and 20oS to be ca. 0.00087oC/month at the surface, 0.00089oC/month at 300 hPa, and -0.00016oC/month at 200 hPa, corresponding to 0.10455, 0.10650 and -0.0188oC/decade, respectively (see bar chart above). 

Thus, these radiosonde and surface meteorological data from the Equatorial region do not at the moment display the signature of enhanced greenhouse warming. With the observed warming rate of about 0.10455oC/decade at the surface, a warming rate of about 0.21-0.31oC/decade would have been expected at the 200 and 300 hPa levels to comply with the prognosis on this derived from the CO2 hypothesis.

*IPCC claim of "trapped" OLR 1975-2012 calculated using the IPCC formula: 5.35*ln(393.81/331.08) = .93 Wm-2

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