The energy balance of Earth is influenced by many factors such as temperature, wind, the amount of water vapor in the air as well as surface albedo and emittance. Radiative transfer is the transfer of electromagnetic radiation in scattering, absorbing and emitting media. Instruments deployed on weather balloons, aircrafts, and satellites are used to collect data to characterize the atmosphere including its scattering and absorption properties, either locally or by remote sensing. Radiative transfer models (RTMs) are developed and used extensively for a wide range of applications in remote sensing and space technology. This paper is intended to provide a coherent summary of RTMs and associated databases publicly available, as well as some patents and publications related directly or indirectly to the field of radiative transfer and the use of RTMs in remote sensing applications. The computer codes described in this paper reflect some of the latest advancements in the analysis of data related to Earths radiation budget and their use to enhance understanding of climate change and global warming. The applications of radiative transfer occur mainly in areas of climate modeling, atmospheric science, ocean science, remote sensing, astronomy, astrophysics, hydrodynamics, and optics. Radiative transfer codes are used in this broad range of applications, including many related to weather, climate and satellite meteorology. This paper concludes with a description of the future developments expected in the subject covered.
Keywords: Radiative transfer, DISORT, LOWTRAN, MODTRAN, Remote Sensing, on board aircrafts, atmosphere-ocean system, MYSTIC, Satellite Data Assimilation, spectrometers
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