Remote Sensing of Multilayer Cloud-Top Pressure Using Combined Measurements of MERIS and AATSR on board Envisat

Rasmus Lindstrot Institut für Weltraumwissenschaften, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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Rene Preusker Institut für Weltraumwissenschaften, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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Jürgen Fischer Institut für Weltraumwissenschaften, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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Abstract

A novel and unique algorithm for the retrieval of multilayer cloud-top pressure is presented, relying on synergetic observations of the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) and Advanced Along Track Scanning Radiometer (AATSR) on board the Environmental Satellite (Envisat). The retrieval is based on the exploitation of the differing signals observed in the thermal infrared spectral region (AATSR) and the oxygen A band at 0.76 μm (MERIS). Past studies have shown that the cloud-top pressure retrieved from MERIS measurements is highly accurate in the case of low single-layered clouds. In contrast, in the presence of multilayered clouds like cirrus overlying water clouds, the derived cloud height is biased. In this framework, an optimal estimation algorithm for the correction of the measured O2 A transmission for the influence of the upper cloud layer was developed. The algorithm is best applicable in cases of optically thin cirrus (1 ≤ τ ≤ 5) above optically thick water clouds (τ > 5), as found frequently in the vicinity of convective or frontal cloud systems. The split-window brightness temperature difference technique is used for the identification of suitable cases. The sensitivities of the AATSR and MERIS measurements to multilayered clouds are presented and discussed, revealing that in the case of dual-layered clouds, the AATSR-derived cloud height is close to the upper cloud layer, even if it is optically thin. In contrast, the cloud height retrieved from MERIS measurements represents the optical center of the cloud system, which is close to the lower layer in cases where the upper layer is optically thin. Two case studies of convective, multilayered cloud systems above the northern Atlantic Ocean are shown, demonstrating the plausibility of the approach. The presented work is relevant especially in view of the upcoming Global Monitoring for Environment and Security Sentinel-3 satellite to be launched in 2012 that will carry the respective MERIS and AATSR follow-up instruments Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI) and Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR).

Corresponding author address: Rasmus Lindstrot, Institut für Weltraumwissenschaften, FU Berlin, Carl-Heinrich-Becker-Weg 6-10, 12165 Berlin, Germany. Email: rasmus.lindstrot@wew.fu-berlin.de

Abstract

A novel and unique algorithm for the retrieval of multilayer cloud-top pressure is presented, relying on synergetic observations of the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) and Advanced Along Track Scanning Radiometer (AATSR) on board the Environmental Satellite (Envisat). The retrieval is based on the exploitation of the differing signals observed in the thermal infrared spectral region (AATSR) and the oxygen A band at 0.76 μm (MERIS). Past studies have shown that the cloud-top pressure retrieved from MERIS measurements is highly accurate in the case of low single-layered clouds. In contrast, in the presence of multilayered clouds like cirrus overlying water clouds, the derived cloud height is biased. In this framework, an optimal estimation algorithm for the correction of the measured O2 A transmission for the influence of the upper cloud layer was developed. The algorithm is best applicable in cases of optically thin cirrus (1 ≤ τ ≤ 5) above optically thick water clouds (τ > 5), as found frequently in the vicinity of convective or frontal cloud systems. The split-window brightness temperature difference technique is used for the identification of suitable cases. The sensitivities of the AATSR and MERIS measurements to multilayered clouds are presented and discussed, revealing that in the case of dual-layered clouds, the AATSR-derived cloud height is close to the upper cloud layer, even if it is optically thin. In contrast, the cloud height retrieved from MERIS measurements represents the optical center of the cloud system, which is close to the lower layer in cases where the upper layer is optically thin. Two case studies of convective, multilayered cloud systems above the northern Atlantic Ocean are shown, demonstrating the plausibility of the approach. The presented work is relevant especially in view of the upcoming Global Monitoring for Environment and Security Sentinel-3 satellite to be launched in 2012 that will carry the respective MERIS and AATSR follow-up instruments Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI) and Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR).

Corresponding author address: Rasmus Lindstrot, Institut für Weltraumwissenschaften, FU Berlin, Carl-Heinrich-Becker-Weg 6-10, 12165 Berlin, Germany. Email: rasmus.lindstrot@wew.fu-berlin.de

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