Topic 2c - Atmosphere: applications

This video will introduce you to the Monitoring Atmospheric Climate and Composition (MACC) project, where Dr Angela Benedetti will introduce how she uses Earth observation of atmospheric aerosols to help understand the state of our atmosphere, and update this on a daily basis. The techniques developed and exploited here within MACC are being honed for use within the Copernicus Atmosphere Service, which will provide these types of data, updated every few hours, routinely into the future.

‘Atmospheric aerosols’, (minute particles suspended in Earth’s atmosphere), can interact with incoming and outgoing electromagnetic radiation, and thus can have an important effect on the Earth’s ‘radiation budget’. Particular types of aerosol particle serve to scatter and absorb shortwave and longwave radiation more severely, causing increased impacts on the radiation budget, weather and climate. Certain types of aerosol also have other effects – for example changing precipitation. It is therefore important to both quantify the total amount of aerosol present in the atmosphere at a particular location, but also to try to identify its type.

Due to the complexity of atmospheric aerosols processes, and the wide range of direct and indirect impacts, they remain a significant source of uncertainty in our understanding of the Earth’s changing climate. Therefore, to improve our confidence in climate predictions we need to gather ever improved information on these aerosols in order to reduce uncertainties further.

Earth observation allows us to study atmospheric aerosols in much greater detail and over a much wider area of the planet than ever before, helping to improve our understanding of their role in the climate system and in climate change. By using observations from EO satellites, we can assess the amount and type of aerosol present, and can achieve a global view of their spatial and temporal variability. We can also use the data to try to deduce the origin of the aerosol in a particular region, along with the size range and abundance of the particles. Using both satellite EO and very sophisticated computer modelling, the European [Monitoring Atmospheric Climate and Composition (MACC)] project, currently in its third phase, utilises vast amounts of satellite data related to atmospheric composition, including that related to atmospheric aerosols, and provides a global analysis of its state for recent years, very detailed maps of present conditions, and for forecasts a few days ahead.

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  • Dr Angela Benedetti

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