Abstract

A need to gain more confidence in computer model predictions of coming climate change has resulted in greater analysis of the quality of orbital Earth radiation budget (ERB) measurements being used today to constrain, validate, and hence improve such simulations. These studies conclude from time series analysis that for around a quarter of a century, no existing satellite ERB climate data record is of a sufficient standard to partition changes to the Earth from those of un-tracked and changing artificial instrumentation effects. This led to the creation of the Moon and Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (MERBE), which instead takes existing decades old climate data to a higher calibration standard using thousands of scans of Earth’s Moon. The Terra and Aqua satellite ERB climate records have been completely regenerated using signal-processing improvements, combined with a substantial increase in precision from more comprehensive in-flight spectral characterization techniques. This study now builds on previous Optical Society of America work by describing new Moon measurements derived using accurate analytical mapping of telescope spatial response. That then allows a factor of three reduction in measurement noise along with an order of magnitude increase in the number of retrieved independent lunar results. Given decadal length device longevity and the use of solar and thermal lunar radiance models to normalize the improved ERB results to the International System of Units traceable radiance scale of the “MERBE Watt,” the same established environmental time series analysis techniques are applied to MERBE data. They evaluate it to perhaps be of sufficient quality to immediately begin narrowing the largest of climate prediction uncertainties. It also shows that if such Terra/Aqua ERB devices can operate into the 2020s, it could become possible to halve these same uncertainties decades sooner than would be possible with existing or even planned new observing systems.

© 2018 Optical Society of America

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