The First ISCCP Regional Experiments have been designed to improve data products and cloud/radiation parameterizations used in general circulation models (GCMs). Specifically, the goals of FIRE are (1) to improve the basic understanding of the interaction of physical processes in determining life cycles of cirrus and marine stratocumulus systems and the radiative properties of these clouds during ... their life cycles and (2) to investigate the interrelationships between the ISCCP data, GCM parameterizations, and higher space and time resolution cloud data.
To-date, four intensive field-observation periods were planned and executed: a cirrus IFO (October 13 - November 2, 1986); a marine stratocumulus IFO off the southwestern coast of California (June 29 - July 20, 1987); a second cirrus IFO in southeastern Kansas (November 13 - December 7, 1991); and a second marine stratocumulus IFO in the eastern North Atlantic Ocean (June 1 - June 28, 1992). Each mission combined coordinated satellite, airborne, and surface observations with modeling studies to investigate the cloud properties and physical processes of the cloud systems.
The MODIS Airbourne Simulator (MAS) is a modified Daedalus Wildfire scanning spectrometer which flies on a NASA ER-2 and provides spectral information similar to that which will be provided by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), scheduled to be launched on the EOS-AM platform in 1998 (King et al. 1992). The principal investigators for the MAS are Dr. Michael King (NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt MD), and Dr. Paul Menzel (NOAA/NESDIS, Madison WI).
In January 1992, the modified Wildfire instrument was converted to MAS configuration. In June 1992 the MAS was flown over portions of the Atlantic Ocean in the region of the Azores during the ASTEX experiment. Although the MAS instrument is a 50 band spectrometer, the data system used in this experiment could only record 12 channels (at 8-bit resolution).
The MAS spectrometer acquires high spatial resolution imagery in the wavelength range of 0.55 to 14.3 microns. A total of 50 spectral bands are available in this range, and the digitizer can be configured to collect data from any 12 of these bands. The digitizer was configured with four 10-bit channels and seven 8-bit channels. The MAS spectrometer was mated to a scanner subassembly which collected image data with an IFOV of 2.5 mrad, giving a ground resolution of 50 meters from 20000 meters altitude, and a cross track scan width of 85.92 degrees. The data granules were written using the self documenting file storage format provided through the netCDF interface routines included in the HDF libraries.