U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

ARM Improves Critical Climate Measurement
Published: May 29, 2002
Posted: June 10, 2002

Office of Science's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program has improved the measurement accuracy of diffuse solar radiation by a factor of three -- from about +/- 6 Watts per square meter (W/m2) to about +/-2 W/m2. The accomplishment will give scientists a better chance to predict and detect climate change resulting from increases in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Considering that the increase in atmospheric heating is projected to increase by 4 W/m2 if the amount of carbon dioxide in the air doubles, this improvement in measurement accuracy is an important achievement because the measurement accuracy needs to be as small as possible to accurately predict how much atmospheric heating will occur in the future due to increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and other materials in the atmosphere that scatter and/or absorb energy. In the world of climate change, scientists understand the heating and cooling of the Earth by measuring the energy from the sun in its many forms: direct, scattered, or absorbed and re-released. Their current goal is to measure all these forms to within +/- 4 W/m2. Diffuse irradiance is the scattered energy from the direct sunlight after it hits haze particles (aerosols), cloud droplets, or molecules in the atmosphere. Results of this accomplishment provides scientists with confidence in the measurements of diffuse radiation in the atmosphere, allowing them to focus their efforts and attention on improving models that predict climate change.

Contact: Wanda R. Ferrell, SC-74, 3-0043
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER
      (formerly SC-74 Environmental Sciences Division, OBER)


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Aug 24, 2019
New Approach for Studying How Microbes Influence Their Environment
A diverse group of scientists suggests a common framework and targeting of known microbial processes [more...]

Aug 08, 2019
Nutrient-Hungry Peatland Microbes Reduce Carbon Loss Under Warmer Conditions
Enzyme production in peatlands reduces carbon lost to respiration under future high temperatures. [more...]

Aug 05, 2019
Amazon Forest Response to CO2 Fertilization Dependent on Plant Phosphorus Acquisition
AmazonFACE Model Intercomparison. The Science Plant growth is dependent on the availabi [more...]

Jul 29, 2019
A Slippery Slope: Soil Carbon Destabilization
Carbon gain or loss depends on the balance between competing biological, chemical, and physical reac [more...]

Jul 15, 2019
Field Evaluation of Gas Analyzers for Measuring Ecosystem Fluxes
How gas analyzer type and correction method impact measured fluxes. The Science A side- [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)