Scientist to work on cloud and precipitation retrievals from the EarthCARE satellite

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Organisation: ECMWF


ECMWF is both a research institute and a 24/7 operational service, producing and disseminating numerical weather predictions to its Member States. ECMWF carries out scientific and technical research directed to the improvement of its forecasts, collects and processes large amounts of observations, and manages a long-term archive of meteorological data. Satellite and in situ observations provide the information for up-to-date global analyses and climate reanalyses of the atmosphere, ocean and land surface.

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EarthCARE (Earth Clouds, Aerosol and Radiation Explorer) is a joint European/Japanese satellite due for launch in 2021 carrying a Doppler cloud radar, high spectral resolution lidar, multi-spectral imager and broad-band radiometer. EarthCARE offers significant opportunities for evaluation of cloud, precipitation and aerosol processes in the ECMWF model, and EarthCARE data are planned to be assimilated into the model in real-time after launch. ECMWF is a major partner in the DORSY project (Doppler Radar and Synergy Products for EarthCARE) funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), which also involves McGill University in Canada (the prime contractor) and the LATMOS laboratory in France. ECMWF’s role in the first three years of DORSY has been to develop the synergy algorithm “CAPTIVATE” (Cloud, Aerosol and Precipitation from mulTiple Instruments using a VAriational TEchnique) that will be used by ESA after launch to provide operational products by combining EarthCARE’s radar, lidar and imager.

Summary of the role

This position is in the Earth System Modelling Section of the Research Department and the successful candidate will work in the Physical Processes Team. The successful candidate will be funded through the second phase of DORSY to further develop the CAPTIVATE algorithm, evaluate it using available airborne and satellite data, and prepare its integration into EarthCARE’s Ground Segment. The outputs obtained by applying CAPTIVATE to A-Train satellite data will be used to evaluate the quality of cloud and precipitation forecasts performed with ECMWF’s Integrated Forecasting System (IFS).

Main duties and key responsibilities

  • Improving specific aspects of the CAPTIVATE algorithm, such as the use of Doppler radar for snowfall estimation, the way that lidar and solar radiances are used in the liquid-cloud retrieval, and the treatment of the melting layer in the rain retrieval.
  • Evaluating CAPTIVATE by running it on simulated EarthCARE data provided by collaborators both in the DORSY project and in other ESA-funded projects running concurrently to DORSY.
  • Collaborating with those working in the EarthCARE Ground Segment, to make the technical changes needed for CAPTIVATE to work correctly in its operational configuration
  • Working with the DORSY prime contractor (McGill University) to produce the project deliverables when needed, including computer code, documentation and other reports
  • Running CAPTIVATE on A-Train satellite data (CloudSat, CALIPSO and MODIS), perform broadband radiative transfer on the retrieved profiles, and then evaluating the retrievals by comparing how well the computed top-of-atmosphere radiative fluxes agree with observations from the CERES instrument
  • Working with the retrieved profiles to evaluate clouds and precipitation forecasts performed by the IFS