Articles | Volume 8, issue 11
Research article
10 Nov 2015
Research article |  | 10 Nov 2015

Geostationary Emission Explorer for Europe (G3E): mission concept and initial performance assessment

A. Butz, J. Orphal, R. Checa-Garcia, F. Friedl-Vallon, T. von Clarmann, H. Bovensmann, O. Hasekamp, J. Landgraf, T. Knigge, D. Weise, O. Sqalli-Houssini, and D. Kemper

Abstract. The Geostationary Emission Explorer for Europe (G3E) is a concept for a geostationary satellite sounder that aims to constrain the sources and sinks of greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) for continental-scale regions. Its primary focus is on central Europe. G3E carries a spectrometer system that collects sunlight backscattered from the Earth's surface and atmosphere in the near-infrared (NIR) and shortwave-infrared (SWIR) spectral range. Solar absorption spectra allow for spatiotemporally dense observations of the column-average concentrations of carbon dioxide (XCO2), methane (XCH4), and carbon monoxide (XCO). The mission concept in particular facilitates sampling of the diurnal variation with several measurements per day during summer.

Here, we present the mission concept and carry out an initial performance assessment of the retrieval capabilities. The radiometric performance of the 4 grating spectrometers is tuned to reconcile small ground-pixel sizes (~2 km × 3 km at 50° latitude) with short single-shot exposures (~2.9 s) that allow for sampling continental regions such as central Europe within 2 h while providing a sufficient signal-to-noise ratio. The noise errors to be expected for XCO2, XCH4, and XCO are assessed through retrieval simulations for a European trial ensemble. Generally, single-shot precision for the targeted XCO2 and XCH4 is better than 0.5 % with some exception for scenes with low infrared surface albedo observed under low sun conditions in winter. For XCO, precision is generally better than 10 %. Performance for aerosol and cirrus loaded atmospheres is assessed by mimicking G3E's slant view on Europe for an ensemble of atmospheric scattering properties used previously for evaluating nadir-viewing low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites. While retrieval concepts developed for LEO configurations generally succeed in mitigating aerosol- and cirrus-induced retrieval errors for G3E's setup, residual errors are somewhat greater in geostationary orbit (GEO) than in LEO. G3E's deployment in the vicinity of the Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) satellites has the potential to make synergistic use of MTG's sounding capabilities e.g. with respect to characterization of aerosol and cloud properties or with respect to enhancing carbon monoxide retrievals by combining G3E's solar and MTG's thermal infrared spectra.

Short summary
The Geostationary Emission Explorer for Europe (G3E) is a mission concept for a greenhouse gas sounder in geostationary orbit. It is designed to provide column-average concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and carbon monoxide with high spatial and 2-hour temporal resolution throughout the central European continent. The prospective data density, precision and accuracy suggest G3E as a key component of a future carbon emission monitoring system.