Radiation Explorer in the Far InfraRed-Prototype for Applications and Development

Razionale scientifico
REFIR-satellite - EU
Scientific rationale

In the next century planet Earth faces the potential hazard of climate changes, such as climate warming, rising sea level, deforestation, desertification, ozone depletion, acid rain, and reduction in bio-diversity. However many related important scientific questions remain unanswered. For example, while a significant global climate change, Man induced or not, is likely, its magnitude and timing (both at the global and regional level) are quite uncertain. Additional information on the rate, causes, and effects of global change is essential to develop the understanding of a such important physical process. Only through systematic, comprehensive research can scientists increase their knowledge of Earth’s climate and its variations, thereby providing guidance to decision makers.

The implementations of advanced observing techniques to eliminate gaps in the measuring network will complement the existing techniques and data to address the basic scientific problems of global change. Therefore, one of the major objectives of earth science in the coming decades is the development of complete and accurate long term data sets to study global change. Radiation is one of the most important themes, itself still articulated in a large variety of aspects. Of these aspects, the proposed project addresses the need for new data in a range as yet unexplored and the interaction between radiation, water vapour and clouds in the upper troposphere. The main scientific objectives of the REFIR concept are:

  • to measure the spectral radiance in the FIR (100 -1100 cm -1 ), a portion of the planetary emission to space that is not covered by any current or planned space mission;
  • to improve our knowledge on the distribution of the atmospheric constituents that modulate to a large extent the FIR emission to space:
      • mid and upper tropospheric water vapour, using the strong spectral signature of water vapour in the FIR;

      • mid and upper tropospheric clouds, such as cirrus.

These objectives call for an instrument that is capable of wide spectral range, good throughput and sensitivity, and high spectral resolution. This naturally points to a FTS of some type. The FTS is the primary instrument of REFIR and represents the main object of this study.

IFAC-Osservazione del Sistema Terra