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  1. null (Ed.)
  2. Abstract

    High‐resolution space‐based spectral imaging of the Earth's surface delivers critical information for monitoring changes in the Earth system as well as resource management and utilization. Orbiting spectrometers are built according to multiple design parameters, including ground sampling distance (GSD), spectral resolution, temporal resolution, and signal‐to‐noise ratio. Different applications drive divergent instrument designs, so optimization for wide‐reaching missions is complex. The Surface Biology and Geology component of NASA's Earth System Observatory addresses science questions and meets applications needs across diverse fields, including terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, natural disasters, and the cryosphere. The algorithms required to generate the geophysical variables from the observed spectral imagery each have their own inherent dependencies and sensitivities, and weighting these objectively is challenging. Here, we introduce intrinsic dimensionality (ID), a measure of information content, as an applications‐agnostic, data‐driven metric to quantify performance sensitivity to various design parameters. ID is computed through the analysis of the eigenvalues of the image covariance matrix, and can be thought of as the number of significant principal components. This metric is extremely powerful for quantifying the information content in high‐dimensional data, such as spectrally resolved radiances and their changes over space and time. We find that the ID decreases for coarser GSD, decreased spectral resolution and range, less frequent acquisitions, and lower signal‐to‐noise levels. This decrease in information content has implications for all derived products. ID is simple to compute, providing a single quantitative standard to evaluate combinations of design parameters, irrespective of higher‐level algorithms, products, applications, or disciplines.

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  3. The Global Carbon Budget 2018 (GCB2018) estimated by the atmospheric COgrowth rate, fossil fuel emissions, and modeled (bottom‐up) land and ocean fluxes cannot be fully closed, leading to a “budget imbalance,” highlighting uncertainties in GCB components. However, no systematic analysis has been performed on which regions or processes contribute to this term. To obtain deeper insight on the sources of uncertainty in global and regional carbon budgets, we analyzed differences in Net Biome Productivity (NBP) for all possible combinations of bottom‐up and top‐down data sets in GCB2018: (i) 16 dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs), and (ii) 5 atmospheric inversions that match the atmospheric COgrowth rate. We find that the global mismatch between the two ensembles matches well the GCB2018 budget imbalance, with Brazil, Southeast Asia, and Oceania as the largest contributors. Differences between DGVMs dominate global mismatches, while at regional scale differences between inversions contribute the most to uncertainty. At both global and regional scales, disagreement on NBP interannual variability between the two approaches explains a large fraction of differences. We attribute this mismatch to distinct responses to El Niño–Southern Oscillation variability between DGVMs and inversions and to uncertainties in land use change emissions, especially in South America and Southeast Asia. We identify key needs to reduce uncertainty in carbon budgets: reducing uncertainty in atmospheric inversions (e.g., through more observations in the tropics) and in land use change fluxes, including more land use processes and evaluating land use transitions (e.g., using high‐resolution remote‐sensing), and, finally, improving tropical hydroecological processes and fire representation within DGVMs.

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