Global Systems

Global Systems

Aerosols continue to be responsible for the largest uncertainty in determining the anthropogenic radiative forcing of the climate. To both reconcile the large range in satellite-based estimates of the aerosol direct radiative effect (DRE, the direct interaction with solar radiation by all aerosols) and to optimize the design of future observing systems, we build a framework for assessing uncertainty in aerosol DRE and the aerosol direct radiative forcing (DRF, the radiative effect of just anthropogenic aerosols, RF_ari).

Tomography aims to recover a three-dimensional (3D) density map of a medium or an object. In medical imaging, it is extensively used for diagnostics via X-ray computed tomography (CT). Optical diffusion tomography is an alternative to X-ray CT that uses multiple scattered light to deliver coarse density maps for soft tissues.

Goddard Space Flight Center airborne campaigns are highlighted in a recent Capital Weather Gang article in The Washington Post. The article describes the novel coronavirus's impact on scientific research and field campaigns.

Science Highlights

Combined Lidar-Polarimeter Observations Enable Novel Classification of Cirrus Cloud Ice Crystal Habits

Novel Estimates of Global Exposure to Landslide Hazards

Global Harmonized Landsat/Sentinel-2 (HLS) Data Products Being Released


Field Campaigns

Space Missions

NOAA’s latest generation of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES), known as the GOES-R Series, is the nation’s most advanced fleet of geostationary weather satellites. Geostationary satellites circle the Earth in geosynchronous orbit, which means they orbit the Earth’s equatorial plane at a speed matching the Earth’s rotation.


The Sun is the predominant source of energy input to Earth. Solar radiation ensures the maintenance of the appropriate range of temperatures for the sustenance of life on Earth, by driving land surface heating, plant productivity, and oceanic and atmospheric circulations. Because of the Sun’s dominant influence on Earth’s function, it is important to accurately measure the solar input to Earth or solar irradiance. Measurement of the total solar irradiance (TSI) is essential for quantifying Earth’s energy budget.

Using advanced radar imaging that will provide an unprecedented, detailed view of Earth, the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, or NISAR, satellite is designed to observe and take measurements of some of the planet's most complex processes, including ecosystem disturbances, ice-sheet collapse, and natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides.

Research Areas

A single measurement of the near-Earth magnetic field (within 1500 km of the surface) is comprised of a superposition of signals from different current sources within the system. In order to study a particular source, it must be separated from the others using inverse theory in which the geophysical parameters of a model are inferred from field measurements.


Data Files

The CDDIS was established in 1982 as a dedicated data bank to archive and distribute space geodesy related data sets. Today, the CDDIS archives and distributes mainly Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS, currently Global Positioning System GPS and GLObal NAvigation Satellite System GLONASS), laser ranging (both to artificial satellites, SLR, and lunar, LLR), Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), and Doppler Orbitography and Radio-positioning Integrated by Satellite (DORIS) data for an ever increasing user community of geophysists.


To improve VLBI data to meet increasingly demanding requirements, an end-to-end redesign called the VLBI Global Observing System (VGOS, formerly VLBI2010) is in progress. The key concepts are a broadband signal acquisition chain (2-14 GHz) with digital electronics and fast, small antennas.


he Doppler Orbitography by Radiopositioning Integrated on Satellite (DORIS) was developed in France by the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) with the cooperation of Groupe de Recherche en Géodésie Spatiale (GRGS) and the Institut Géographique National (IGN).


Atmospheric System Research is to advance understanding of the interactions among aerosols, clouds, precipitation, radiation, dynamics, and thermodynamics.



A reference source for GCM-type radiative transfer (RT) code evaluation. Contributes to the improvement of solar and thermal RT parameterizations.