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Time Series of Daily Averaged Cloud Fractions over Landfast First-Year Sea Ice from Multiple Data Sources

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  • 1 Centre for Earth Observation Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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Abstract

The time series of daily averaged cloud fractions (CFs) collected from different platforms—two Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on Terra and Aqua satellites, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) model, a Vaisala 25K laser ceilometer, and ground-based manual observations (manobs)—above the winter camp of the Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study (CASES) field experiment are analyzed in this study. Taking the manobs as standard, the authors conclude that 1) the NCEP products considerably underestimated CFs in spring (e.g., from April to May) and 2) the performance of two MODIS products depends on the variation of solar zenith angle (SZA). Aqua MODIS misrepresents the snow-covered surface as clouds with almost randomly distributed CFs during the dark winter [cos(SZA) < 0], leading to the overestimation of CFs in winter while Terra MODIS has good agreement with manobs. When 0.1 < cos(SZA) < 0.4, both MODIS products regularly misrepresent the snow-covered background as clouds, leading to the significant overestimation of CFs in late winter (February) and early spring (March). When cos(SZA) > 0.4, both MODIS products have good performance in detecting cloud masks over snow backgrounds. If the sky is slightly cloudy, surface-based meteorological observers tend to underestimate cloud amounts when there is a lack of light. Comparing the CFs from Terra and manobs, the authors conclude that this bias can be over 10%. Power spectral analysis and wavelet analysis show three results: 1) High clouds more frequently appear in winter than in spring with periods between 8 and 16 days, indicating their close connection with synoptic events. Current NCEP products can predict this periodicity but have a phase lag. 2) Middle and low clouds are more local and are common in mid- and late spring (April and May) with periods between 2 and 4 days. At the CASES winter and spring field site, the periodicity of high clouds is dominant. 3) The time-scale-dependent correlation coefficients (CCs) between both MODIS products, NCEP and manobs, show that with high frequent CF sampling per day, the CCs are stable when the time scale varies between 1 and 4 days: with Terra MODIS and NCEP, the value is about 0.6; with Aqua MODIS, between 0.4 and 0.5. All CCs get smaller when the time scale increases beyond 8 days: with respect to both MODIS products, the CCs get closer with values between 0.3 and 0.4; with respect to NCEP, the CC dramatically decreases from positive values to negative values, indicating the lack of accuracy in current NCEP cloud schemes.

Corresponding author address: Xin Jin, Faculty of Environment, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3T2N2, Canada. Email: umjinx@cc.umanitoba.ca

Abstract

The time series of daily averaged cloud fractions (CFs) collected from different platforms—two Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on Terra and Aqua satellites, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) model, a Vaisala 25K laser ceilometer, and ground-based manual observations (manobs)—above the winter camp of the Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study (CASES) field experiment are analyzed in this study. Taking the manobs as standard, the authors conclude that 1) the NCEP products considerably underestimated CFs in spring (e.g., from April to May) and 2) the performance of two MODIS products depends on the variation of solar zenith angle (SZA). Aqua MODIS misrepresents the snow-covered surface as clouds with almost randomly distributed CFs during the dark winter [cos(SZA) < 0], leading to the overestimation of CFs in winter while Terra MODIS has good agreement with manobs. When 0.1 < cos(SZA) < 0.4, both MODIS products regularly misrepresent the snow-covered background as clouds, leading to the significant overestimation of CFs in late winter (February) and early spring (March). When cos(SZA) > 0.4, both MODIS products have good performance in detecting cloud masks over snow backgrounds. If the sky is slightly cloudy, surface-based meteorological observers tend to underestimate cloud amounts when there is a lack of light. Comparing the CFs from Terra and manobs, the authors conclude that this bias can be over 10%. Power spectral analysis and wavelet analysis show three results: 1) High clouds more frequently appear in winter than in spring with periods between 8 and 16 days, indicating their close connection with synoptic events. Current NCEP products can predict this periodicity but have a phase lag. 2) Middle and low clouds are more local and are common in mid- and late spring (April and May) with periods between 2 and 4 days. At the CASES winter and spring field site, the periodicity of high clouds is dominant. 3) The time-scale-dependent correlation coefficients (CCs) between both MODIS products, NCEP and manobs, show that with high frequent CF sampling per day, the CCs are stable when the time scale varies between 1 and 4 days: with Terra MODIS and NCEP, the value is about 0.6; with Aqua MODIS, between 0.4 and 0.5. All CCs get smaller when the time scale increases beyond 8 days: with respect to both MODIS products, the CCs get closer with values between 0.3 and 0.4; with respect to NCEP, the CC dramatically decreases from positive values to negative values, indicating the lack of accuracy in current NCEP cloud schemes.

Corresponding author address: Xin Jin, Faculty of Environment, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB R3T2N2, Canada. Email: umjinx@cc.umanitoba.ca

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