EarthCARE can provide comprehensive and reliable sets of measurements of cloud and aerosol parameters together with the corresponding outgoing radiation at the top of the atmosphere to improve cloud modelling and a better understanding on cloud-aerosol interactions. The innovation of EarthCARE is the possibility of a synergistic exploitation of the several passive and active instruments on board of a single satellite platform, namely an atmospheric backscatter lidar (ATLID), a cloud profiling radar (CPR), a multispectral imager (MSI), and a broadband radiometer (BBR).
The geophysical products that are envisaged to be retrieved from the EarthCARE instrument(s) will allow the determination of vertical profiles of natural and anthropogenic aerosols on a global scale along with their radiative properties and interaction with clouds, vertical distribution of atmospheric liquid water and ice on a global scale, their transport by clouds and radiative impact, cloud overlap in the vertical, cloud-precipitation interactions and the characteristics of vertical motion within clouds and the profiles of atmospheric radiative heating and cooling through a combination of retrieved aerosol and cloud properties. There are several preparatory science activities on going with EarthCARE such as the end-to-end simulator and algorithm developments for stand-alone and synergistic exploitation of the instruments, the impact of EarthCARE products on NWP and a concept for validation campaigns.
The global data of aerosol and clouds optical properties generated from EarthCARE are envisaged to be part of a long term data base (2006-2016), along with CALIPSO and ADM-Aeolus, crucial for climate studies. EarthCARE is implemented as one of ESA's Earth Explorer Core Missions to demonstrate the feasibility and usefulness of instrument synergy for cloud-aerosol-radiation interactions. The launch is scheduled for 2012.