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EarthCARE mission to improve weather forecasts


06 Mar 2019

Clouds hugely affect atmospheric heating and cooling
Clouds hugely affect
atmospheric heating
and cooling. Copyright:

Earth observation satellite data are crucial for generating accurate weather predictions. They provide a global picture of the current state of the atmosphere, which is used as the starting point for creating a forecast.

But our knowledge of that current state is limited, partly because satellites have so far not been able to collect much information about clouds, which play a key role in the weather. The ESA/JAXA future mission EarthCARE will provide this information to improve our predictions about the future weather and climate.

Energy in the atmosphere is a balance between incoming light from the Sun, which heats Earth, and outgoing thermal radiation, which cools Earth. By reflecting sunlight back out to space, and trapping outgoing infrared light, clouds play a vital role in controlling the temperature of the planet. To a lesser extent, aerosols – small solid particles suspended in the air – do the same. Aerosols also contribute indirectly to Earth's temperature by influencing the life cycle of clouds.

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