Head of the department: Prof. Dr. André Butz
Remote sensing of clouds with MSG/SEVIRI (Meteosat Second Generation). Clockwise for each quarter of the disk and starting at the upper right the figure shows: Colour composite, optical thickness, reflected shortwave irradiance, effective droplet radius.
The changing composition of the Earth’s atmosphere drives processes in weather and climate. We employ remote sensing tools to infer the physical and chemical state of the atmosphere with high accuracy. In particular, we focus our research on two main topics: 1) the global distribution of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane and 2) the occurrence and properties of clouds. Emissions of carbon dioxide and methane cause a radiative forcing that drives climate change. The climate feedback mechanisms of clouds are among the largest uncertainties of our understanding of the climate system.
Our key science questions are:
Quantitative understanding of the sources and sinks of the man-made greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane. We investigate anthropogenic activities as well as biogeochemical processes in the oceans and the land biosphere,
Life cycle and radiative impact of water and ice clouds including air-traffic induced condensation trails (contrails),
Detection and quantification of volcanic ash clouds as a contribution to an efficient air traffic management.
Our main tools are:
Spectroscopic remote sensing of gases and aerosols for satellites such as GOSAT, OCO-2, Sentinel-5 (Precursor) or future missions,
Ground-based spectrometers for remote sensing of greenhouse gases,
Retrieval of macroscopic, microphysical, and optical properties of water and ice clouds as well as contrails from satellite instruments such as Meteosat/SEVIRI, CALIPSO/CALIOP, MODIS,
Remote sensing tools for volcanic ash detection and chasing,
Radiative transfer models (libRadtran, VLINTRAN).
The department Atmospheric Remote Sensing closely cooperates with the Lehrstuhl für Experimentelle Meteorologie at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.