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Evaluation of Cirrus Cloud Properties Derived from MODIS Data Using Cloud Properties Derived from Ground-Based Observations Collected at the ARM SGP Site

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  • a University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • | b NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
  • | c NASA Langley Research Center, Langley, Virginia
  • | d Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
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Abstract

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board the NASA Terra satellite has been collecting global data since March 2000 and the one on the Aqua satellite since June 2002. In this paper, cirrus cloud properties derived from ground-based remote sensing data are compared with similar cloud properties derived from MODIS data on Terra. To improve the space–time correlation between the satellite and ground-based observations, data from a wind profiler are used to define the cloud advective streamline along which the comparisons are made. In this paper, approximately two dozen cases of cirrus are examined and a statistical approach to the comparison that relaxes the requirement that clouds occur over the ground-based instruments during the overpass instant is explored. The statistical comparison includes 168 cloudy MODIS overpasses of the Southern Great Plains (SGP) region and approximately 300 h of ground-based cirrus observations. The physical and radiative properties of cloud layers are derived from MODIS data separately by the MODIS Atmospheres Team and the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) Science Team using multiwavelength reflected solar and emitted thermal radiation measurements. Using two ground-based cloud property retrieval algorithms and the two MODIS algorithms, a positive correlation in the effective particle size, the optical thickness, the ice water path, and the cloud-top pressure between the various methods is shown, although sometimes there are significant biases. Classifying the clouds by optical thickness, it is demonstrated that the regionally averaged cloud properties derived from MODIS are similar to those diagnosed from the ground. Because of a conservative approach toward identifying thin cirrus pixels over this region, the area-averaged cloud properties derived from the MODIS Atmospheres MOD06 product tend to be biased slightly toward the optically thicker pixels. This bias tendency has implications for model validation and parameterization development applied to thin cirrus retrieved over SGP-like land surfaces. A persistent bias is also found in the derived cloud tops of thin cirrus with both satellite algorithms reporting cloud top several hundred meters less than that reported by the cloud radar. Overall, however, it is concluded that the MODIS retrieval algorithms characterize with reasonable accuracy the properties of thin cirrus over this region.

Corresponding author address: Gerald Mace, Dept. of Meteorology, Rm. 819 (819 WBB), University of Utah, 135S 1460E, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0110. mace@met.utah.edu

Abstract

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board the NASA Terra satellite has been collecting global data since March 2000 and the one on the Aqua satellite since June 2002. In this paper, cirrus cloud properties derived from ground-based remote sensing data are compared with similar cloud properties derived from MODIS data on Terra. To improve the space–time correlation between the satellite and ground-based observations, data from a wind profiler are used to define the cloud advective streamline along which the comparisons are made. In this paper, approximately two dozen cases of cirrus are examined and a statistical approach to the comparison that relaxes the requirement that clouds occur over the ground-based instruments during the overpass instant is explored. The statistical comparison includes 168 cloudy MODIS overpasses of the Southern Great Plains (SGP) region and approximately 300 h of ground-based cirrus observations. The physical and radiative properties of cloud layers are derived from MODIS data separately by the MODIS Atmospheres Team and the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) Science Team using multiwavelength reflected solar and emitted thermal radiation measurements. Using two ground-based cloud property retrieval algorithms and the two MODIS algorithms, a positive correlation in the effective particle size, the optical thickness, the ice water path, and the cloud-top pressure between the various methods is shown, although sometimes there are significant biases. Classifying the clouds by optical thickness, it is demonstrated that the regionally averaged cloud properties derived from MODIS are similar to those diagnosed from the ground. Because of a conservative approach toward identifying thin cirrus pixels over this region, the area-averaged cloud properties derived from the MODIS Atmospheres MOD06 product tend to be biased slightly toward the optically thicker pixels. This bias tendency has implications for model validation and parameterization development applied to thin cirrus retrieved over SGP-like land surfaces. A persistent bias is also found in the derived cloud tops of thin cirrus with both satellite algorithms reporting cloud top several hundred meters less than that reported by the cloud radar. Overall, however, it is concluded that the MODIS retrieval algorithms characterize with reasonable accuracy the properties of thin cirrus over this region.

Corresponding author address: Gerald Mace, Dept. of Meteorology, Rm. 819 (819 WBB), University of Utah, 135S 1460E, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0110. mace@met.utah.edu

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