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Assessing the beginning to end-of-mission sensitivity change of the PREcision MOnitor Sensor total solar irradiance radiometer (PREMOS/PICARD)

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2016
Author Ball William T., Schmutz Werner, Fehlmann André, Finsterle Wolfgang, Walter Benjamin,
Project Future and Past Solar Influence on the Terrestrial Climate II
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate
Volume (Issue) 6
Page(s) A32 - A32
Title of proceedings Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate
DOI 10.1051/swsc/2016026

Open Access


The switching of the total solar irradiance (TSI) backup radiometer (PREMOS-B) to a primary role for 2 weeks at the end of the PICARD mission provides a unique opportunity to test the fundamental hypothesis of radiometer experiments in space, which is that the sensitivity change of instruments due to the space environment is identical for the same instrument type as a function of solar-exposure time of the instruments. We verify this hypothesis for the PREMOS TSI radiometers within the PREMOS experiment on the PICARD mission. We confirm that the sensitivity change of the backup instrument, PREMOS-B, is similar to that of the identically-constructed primary radiometer, PREMOS-A. The extended exposure of the backup instrument at the end of the mission allows for the assessment, with an uncertainty estimate, of the sensitivity change of the primary radiometer from the beginning of the PICARD mission compared to the end, and of the degradation of the backup over the mission. We correct six sets of PREMOS-B observations connecting October 2011 with February 2014, using six ratios from simultaneous PREMOS-A and PREMOS-B exposures during the first days of PREMOS-A operation in 2010. These ratios are then used, with- out indirect estimates or assumptions, to evaluate the stability of SORCE/TIM and SOHO/VIRGO TSI measurements, which have both operated for more than a decade and now show different trends over the time span of the PICARD mission, namely from 2010 to 2014. We find that by February 2014 relative to October 2011 PREMOS-B supports the SORCE/TIM TSI time evolution, which in May 2014 relative to October 2011 is ~0.11 W m 2, or ~84 ppm, higher than SOHO/VIRGO. Such a divergence between SORCE/TIM and SOHO/VIRGO over this period is a significant fraction of the estimated decline of 0.2 W m 2 between the solar minima of 1996 and 2008, and questions the reliability of that estimated trend. Extrapolating the uncertainty indicated by the disagreement of SORCE/TIM and PREMOS with respect to SOHO/VIRGO, we can conclude that it is currently not possible to assess centennial timescale changes in solar irradiance based on any of the presently existing TSI composites. It is imperative to accurately estimate solar irradiance changes from observations in order to extrapolate centennial scale trends important for understanding both long-term solar irradiance changes and the Sun’s influence on the Earth’s climate.