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  • Author or Editor: William L. Smith Jr. x
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Thomas P. Charlock
William L. Smith Jr.
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Xiquan Dong
Gerald G. Mace
Patrick Minnis
William L. Smith Jr.,
Michael Poellot
Roger T. Marchand
, and
Anita D. Rapp


Low-level stratus cloud microphysical properties derived from surface and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) data during the March 2000 cloud intensive observational period (IOP) at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program Southern Great Plains (SGP) site are compared with aircraft in situ measurements. For the surface retrievals, the cloud droplet effective radius and optical depth are retrieved from a δ2-stream radiative transfer model with the input of ground-based measurements, and the cloud liquid water path (LWP) is retrieved from ground-based microwave-radiometer-measured brightness temperature. The satellite results, retrieved from GOES visible, solar-infrared, and infrared radiances, are averaged in a 0.5° × 0.5° box centered on the ARM SGP site. The forward scattering spectrometer probe (FSSP) on the University of North Dakota Citation aircraft provided in situ measurements of the cloud microphysical properties. During the IOP, four low-level stratus cases were intensively observed by the ground- and satellite-based remote sensors and aircraft in situ instruments resulting in a total of 10 h of simultaneous data from the three platforms. In spite of the large differences in temporal and spatial resolution between surface, GOES, and aircraft, the surface retrievals have excellent agreement with the aircraft data overall for the entire 10-h period, and the GOES results agree reasonably well with the surface and aircraft data and have similar trends and magnitudes except for the GOES-derived effective radii, which are typically larger than the surface- and aircraft-derived values. The means and standard deviations of the differences between the surface and aircraft effective radius, LWP, and optical depth are −4% ± 20.1%, −1% ± 31.2%, and 8% ± 29.3%, respectively; while their correlation coefficients are 0.78, 0.92, and 0.89, respectively, during the 10-h period. The differences and correlations between the GOES-8 and aircraft results are of a similar magnitude, except for the droplet sizes. The averaged GOES-derived effective radius is 23% or 1.8 μm greater than the corresponding aircraft values, resulting in a much smaller correlation coefficient of 0.18. Additional surface–satellite datasets were analyzed for time periods when the aircraft was unavailable. When these additional results are combined with the retrievals from the four in situ cases, the means and standard deviations of the differences between the satellite-derived cloud droplet effective radius, LWP, and optical depth and their surface-based counterparts are 16% ± 31.2%, 4% ± 31.6%, and −6% ± 39.9%, respectively. The corresponding correlation coefficients are 0.24, 0.88, and 0.73. The frequency distributions of the two datasets are very similar indicating that the satellite retrieval method should be able to produce reliable statistics of boundary layer cloud properties for use in climate and cloud process models.

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