An infrared image of the earth.

The mission of the Infrared Measurements Group is to examine climate variability using data from satellite, airborne, and ground-based systems. In particular the group is focused on studying the atmospheric component of the hydrologic cycle using infrared measurements. The utility of multispectral measurements from geostationary, polar orbiting, and aircraft platforms to monitor water vapor variability and transport as well as land surface processes over regions with high spatial and temporal resolution is unsurpassed. The research group at the Global Hydrology and Climate Center (GHCC) within the National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) has been involved in the development of retrieval algorithms and in studying atmospheric water vapor variability for a number of years, and research includes both aircraft, satellite (METEOSAT, GOES and MODIS), and modeled datasets.

Importance of Water Vapor Measurements -- Water vapor is a critical variable for climate studies. The absorption of infrared (IR) radiation by atmospheric water vapor and its subsequent emission at lower temperatures greatly influences the radiative energy balance of the planet.

Importance of Wind Measurements -- Winds, for our purposes, are important because they serve to transport energy (latent heat) in the form of moisture from one region to another. Latent heat is the source of energy for the atmosphere and plays an important role in the development of such phenomena as thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes.

Importance of Surface Processes -- It is vital to understand the complexities involved in studies of surface characteristics (in particular, remote sensing studies). The land surface can be made up of sand, mud, swamp, grass, rock, etc. Each of these substances have different radiometric properties and affect remotely sensed data in different ways. Therefore, it is necessary to identify each of these substances and account for their impact on the process or quantity being measured.

Definitions -- Some useful definitions of keywords and acronyms used in our research

|| IR Group Home || GHCC Home ||

|| Personnel || || Publications || || What's New ||

|| Retrievals Algorithms || || Precipitable Water || || Water Vapor Transport ||

|| Land Surface Temperature || || Aircraft Measurement || || Real Time Data ||

Technical Contact: Dr. Gary J. Jedlovec (
Responsible Official: Dr. James L. Smoot (
Page Curator: Diane Samuelson (

Last updated on: January 25, 2002