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A CERES Possibility

Edward A. Reid Jr.
Posted On:
Jan 15, 2019 at 6:45 AM
Climate Change

NASA launched the first of the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) satellites in 1997. CERES is managed by NASA’s Langley Research Center. The CERES surface datasets include a dataset of the upwelling longwave radiation from the surface. This dataset can be converted to surface temperature using the Stefan-Boltzmann equation if the surface emissivity is known. Since the emissivity of common surfaces vary, but are equal to or greater than 0.94, only minimal error is introduced to actual surface temperatures by using an emissivity of 1.0; and, no error affects relative temperatures or temperature trends.

This suggests an opportunity to employ the CERES satellite surface dataset in combination with a relatively small number of highly accurate near-surface temperature measuring stations distributed around the globe to provide a far more comprehensive near-surface temperature dataset which would not require data “adjustment”. A recent paper by Willis Eschenbach suggests that the CERES surface temperature trends match well with the Reynolds sea surface temperature and the UAH MSU (University of Alabama Huntsville / microwave sounding units) lower tropospheric temperature trends, though they are lower than the Berkeley Earth and HadCRUT surface temperature trends by a factor of ~1.5.

Employing the CERES satellite surface dataset in combination with the US Climate Reference Network (CRN) would avoid use of the “adjusted” near-surface temperature records produced by Berkeley Earth, HadCRUT, NOAA and NASA GISS. Installation of a limited number of near-surface temperature measuring stations like the US CRN stations throughout the globe would facilitate “ground-truthing” of the CERES land surface data.  Similarly, the drifting and Argos buoys would be used to “ground-truth” the CERES sea surface temperature data.

This approach would represent a major change in the measurement and reporting of global surface and near-surface temperatures; and, a break in the instrumental temperature record. Therefore, it would be essential that the deviations between the CERES temperatures and the current near-surface and sea surface temperature records be resolved. It appears that much of this deviation in the near-surface temperature records is the result of Urban Heat Island (UHI) effects on the existing near-surface temperature measuring stations and the repeated “adjustments” to the near-surface temperature records by their producers. Similarly, it appears that much of the deviation in the sea surface temperature record is the result of the continuing use of temperature measurements made in a variety of ways by surface ships.

The existing US CRN measuring stations could be used to establish accurate absolute surface temperature data points which could then be used to correct the emissivities used in the surface temperature conversion; and, to establish the extent of UHI effects on the existing near-surface temperature records and the accuracy of the “adjustment” protocols used to prepare the near-surface temperature data for inclusion in the global near-surface temperature anomaly products. The Argos buoys and the floater buoys could perform the same roles for the sea surface temperature measurements.

The greatest advantage of this approach to using the CERES data is the complete global coverage provided by these satellites, including measurements of the Arctic and Antarctic surfaces.