An atmospheric sounder measures how the physical properties of a column of air vary with altitude. The properties that the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) typically measures are temperature, water vapor, composition and clouds. See What is Sounding? for more information on what sounding is and how sounding works.

Two projects at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) support the atmospheric sounding community, the AIRS Project and the Sounder Science Investigator-led Processing Systems (SIPS) Project. See Sounding Science at JPL for more information about JPL sounding support.

The use of AIRS data has led to many advances in different areas of atmospheric science, including weather, climate, and composition science.


A major goal of the Aqua/AIRS mission has been to improve weather forecasts by providing more complete atmospheric observations, especially over the oceans. See Weather for more information on how AIRS observations contribute to weather science and forecasting.


AIRS measures air temperature, the amounts of water vapor and greenhouse gases, and cloud properties with remarkable precision and accuracy. The longevity and quality of the instrument allow us to address many of the scientific questions related to Earth's climate and global change in the atmosphere. See Climate for more information on how AIRS data can be used in climate science, including climate model validation, studies of atmospheric processes, and the role of clouds in the climate.


The focus area of Atmospheric Composition involves the study of changes in Earth's atmospheric chemistry, mainly trace gases. These minor constituents can have natural or man-made origins and affect both climate and air quality. See Composition for more information on how AIRS data can contribute to many areas of trace gas studies.


A searchable database of peer-reviewed science papers using AIRS data is available on the Publications page.

See Significant Findings for summaries of some of the significant results in the literature that are based on AIRS data. These are organized by focus area and time period and only periodically updated.