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Alexander Marshak
Yuri Knyazikhin
Keith D. Evans
, and
Warren J. Wiscombe


A new method for retrieving cloud optical depth from ground-based measurements of zenith radiance in the red (RED) and near-infrared (NIR) spectral regions is introduced. Because zenith radiance does not have a one-to-one relationship with optical depth, it is absolutely impossible to use a monochromatic retrieval. On the other side, algebraic combinations of spectral radiances, such as normalized difference cloud index (NDCI), while largely removing nonuniqueness and the radiative effects of cloud inhomogeneity, can result in poor retrievals due to its insensitivity to cloud fraction. Instead, both RED and NIR radiances as points on the “RED versus NIR” plane are proposed to be used for retrieval. The proposed retrieval method is applied to Cimel measurements at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurements (ARM) site in Oklahoma. Cimel, a multichannel sun photometer, is a part of the Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET)—a ground-based network for monitoring aerosol optical properties. The results of retrieval are compared with the ones from microwave radiometer (MWR) and multifilter rotating shadowband radiometer (MFRSR) located next to Cimel at the ARM site. In addition, the performance of the retrieval method is assessed using a fractal model of cloud inhomogeneity and broken cloudiness. The preliminary results look very promising both theoretically and from measurements.

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