Retrieval of Ice Cloud Parameters Using a Microwave Imaging Radiometer

Fuzhong Weng NOAA/NESDIS, Washington, D.C.

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Norman C. Grody NOAA/NESDIS, Washington, D.C.

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Abstract

Based on the radiative transfer theory, the microwave radiance emanating from ice clouds at arbitrary viewing angles is expressed as an analytic function of the cloud ice water path (IWP), the particle effective diameter (De), and the particle bulk density (ρi). Thus, for a given particle density, the earth-viewing measurements at two frequencies (e.g., 340 and 89 GHz) can provide an estimate of De and IWP for submillimeter-size particles. This physical retrieval is tested using data from the Millimeter-wave Imaging Radiometer (MIR). A comparison among MIR, radar, and infrared sensor measurements shows that the MIR frequencies are affected primarily by thick ice clouds such as cirrus anvil and convection. Over highly convective areas, the measurements from 89 to 220 GHz are nearly identical since the scattering by large ice particles aloft approaches the geometric optics limit, which is independent of wavelength. Under these conditions, only the lower MIR frequencies (89 and 150 GHz) are used to retrieve De and IWP. In general, the MIR-derived De displays a reasonable spatial distribution comparable to the radar and infrared measurements. However, the magnitude of the IWP remains highly uncertain because of insufficient information on the ice particle bulk density.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Fuzhong Weng, NOAA/NESDIS, Office of Research and Applications, 4700 Silver Hill Road, Stop 9910, Washington, DC 20233-9910.

Email: fweng@nesdis.noaa.gov

Abstract

Based on the radiative transfer theory, the microwave radiance emanating from ice clouds at arbitrary viewing angles is expressed as an analytic function of the cloud ice water path (IWP), the particle effective diameter (De), and the particle bulk density (ρi). Thus, for a given particle density, the earth-viewing measurements at two frequencies (e.g., 340 and 89 GHz) can provide an estimate of De and IWP for submillimeter-size particles. This physical retrieval is tested using data from the Millimeter-wave Imaging Radiometer (MIR). A comparison among MIR, radar, and infrared sensor measurements shows that the MIR frequencies are affected primarily by thick ice clouds such as cirrus anvil and convection. Over highly convective areas, the measurements from 89 to 220 GHz are nearly identical since the scattering by large ice particles aloft approaches the geometric optics limit, which is independent of wavelength. Under these conditions, only the lower MIR frequencies (89 and 150 GHz) are used to retrieve De and IWP. In general, the MIR-derived De displays a reasonable spatial distribution comparable to the radar and infrared measurements. However, the magnitude of the IWP remains highly uncertain because of insufficient information on the ice particle bulk density.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Fuzhong Weng, NOAA/NESDIS, Office of Research and Applications, 4700 Silver Hill Road, Stop 9910, Washington, DC 20233-9910.

Email: fweng@nesdis.noaa.gov

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