PATMOS-x: Results from a Diurnally Corrected 30-yr Satellite Cloud Climatology

Michael J. Foster Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, Wisconsin

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Andrew Heidinger Center for Satellite Applications and Research, NOAA/NESDIS, Madison, Wisconsin

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Abstract

Satellite drift is a historical issue affecting the consistency of those few satellite records capable of being used for studies on climate time scales. Here, the authors address this issue for the Pathfinder Atmospheres Extended (PATMOS-x)/Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) cloudiness record, which spans three decades and 11 disparate sensors. A two-harmonic sinusoidal function is fit to a mean diurnal cycle of cloudiness derived over the course of the entire AVHRR record. The authors validate this function against measurements from Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) sensors, finding good agreement, and then test the stability of the diurnal cycle over the course of the AVHRR record. It is found that the diurnal cycle is subject to some interannual variability over land but that the differences are somewhat offset when averaged over an entire day. The fit function is used to generate daily averaged time series of ice, water, and total cloudiness over the tropics, where it is found that the diurnal correction affects the magnitude and even the sign of long-term cloudiness trends. A statistical method is applied to determine the minimum length of time required to detect significant trends, and the authors find that only recently have they begun generating satellite records of sufficient length to detect trends in cloudiness.

Corresponding author address: Michael J. Foster, Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1225 West Dayton St., Madison, WI 53706. E-mail: mfoster@aos.wisc.edu

Abstract

Satellite drift is a historical issue affecting the consistency of those few satellite records capable of being used for studies on climate time scales. Here, the authors address this issue for the Pathfinder Atmospheres Extended (PATMOS-x)/Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) cloudiness record, which spans three decades and 11 disparate sensors. A two-harmonic sinusoidal function is fit to a mean diurnal cycle of cloudiness derived over the course of the entire AVHRR record. The authors validate this function against measurements from Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) sensors, finding good agreement, and then test the stability of the diurnal cycle over the course of the AVHRR record. It is found that the diurnal cycle is subject to some interannual variability over land but that the differences are somewhat offset when averaged over an entire day. The fit function is used to generate daily averaged time series of ice, water, and total cloudiness over the tropics, where it is found that the diurnal correction affects the magnitude and even the sign of long-term cloudiness trends. A statistical method is applied to determine the minimum length of time required to detect significant trends, and the authors find that only recently have they begun generating satellite records of sufficient length to detect trends in cloudiness.

Corresponding author address: Michael J. Foster, Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 1225 West Dayton St., Madison, WI 53706. E-mail: mfoster@aos.wisc.edu
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