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Gang Hong, Ping Yang, Bo-Cai Gao, Bryan A. Baum, Yong X. Hu, Michael D. King, and Steven Platnick

Abstract

This study surveys the optical and microphysical properties of high (ice) clouds over the Tropics (30°S–30°N) over a 3-yr period from September 2002 through August 2005. The analyses are based on the gridded level-3 cloud products derived from the measurements acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments aboard both the NASA Earth Observing System Terra and Aqua platforms. The present analysis is based on the MODIS collection-4 data products. The cloud products provide daily, weekly, and monthly mean cloud fraction, cloud optical thickness, cloud effective radius, cloud-top temperature, cloud-top pressure, and cloud effective emissivity, which is defined as the product of cloud emittance and cloud fraction. This study is focused on high-level ice clouds. The MODIS-derived high clouds are classified as cirriform and deep convective clouds using the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) classification scheme. Cirriform clouds make up more than 80% of the total high clouds, whereas deep convective clouds account for less than 20% of the total high clouds. High clouds are prevalent over the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), the South Pacific convergence zone (SPCZ), tropical Africa, the Indian Ocean, tropical America, and South America. Moreover, land–ocean, morning–afternoon, and summer–winter variations of high cloud properties are also observed.

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Andrew K. Heidinger, Nicholas Bearson, Michael J. Foster, Yue Li, Steve Wanzong, Steven Ackerman, Robert E. Holz, Steven Platnick, and Kerry Meyer

Abstract

Modern polar-orbiting meteorological satellites provide both imaging and sounding observations simultaneously. Most imagers, however, do not have H2O and CO2 absorption bands and therefore struggle to accurately estimate the height of optically thin cirrus clouds. Sounders provide these needed observations, but at a spatial resolution that is too coarse to resolve many important cloud structures. This paper presents a technique to merge sounder and imager observations with the goal of maintaining the details offered by the imager’s high spatial resolution and the accuracy offered by the sounder’s spectral information. The technique involves deriving cloud temperatures from the sounder observations, interpolating the sounder temperatures to the imager pixels, and using the sounder temperatures as an additional constraint in the imager cloud height optimal estimation approach. This technique is demonstrated using collocated VIIRS and Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) observations with the impact of the sounder observations validated using coincident CALIPSO/CALIOP cloud heights These comparisons show significant improvement in the cloud heights for optically thin cirrus. The technique should be generally applicable to other imager/sounder pairs.

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Michael D. King, Steven Platnick, Ping Yang, G. Thomas Arnold, Mark A. Gray, Jérôme C. Riedi, Steven A. Ackerman, and Kuo-Nan Liou

Abstract

A multispectral scanning spectrometer was used to obtain measurements of the bidirectional reflectance and brightness temperature of clouds, sea ice, snow, and tundra surfaces at 50 discrete wavelengths between 0.47 and 14.0 μm. These observations were obtained from the NASA ER-2 aircraft as part of the First ISCCP (International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project) Regional Experiment (FIRE) Arctic Clouds Experiment, conducted over a 1600 km × 500 km region of the north slope of Alaska and surrounding Beaufort and Chukchi Seas between 18 May and 6 June 1998. Multispectral images in eight distinct bands of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Airborne Simulator (MAS) were used to derive a confidence in clear sky (or alternatively the probability of cloud) over five different ecosystems. Based on the results of individual tests run as part of this cloud mask, an algorithm was developed to estimate the phase of the clouds (liquid water, ice, or undetermined phase). Finally, the cloud optical thickness and effective radius were derived for both water and ice clouds that were detected during one flight line on 4 June.

This analysis shows that the cloud mask developed for operational use on MODIS, and tested using MAS data in Alaska, is quite capable of distinguishing clouds from bright sea ice surfaces during daytime conditions in the high Arctic. Results of individual tests, however, make it difficult to distinguish ice clouds over snow and sea ice surfaces, so additional tests were added to enhance the confidence in the thermodynamic phase of clouds over the Chukchi Sea. The cloud optical thickness and effective radius retrievals used three distinct bands of the MAS, with a recently developed 1.62- and 2.13-μm-band algorithm being used quite successfully over snow and sea ice surfaces. These results are contrasted with a MODIS-based algorithm that relies on spectral reflectance at 0.87 and 2.13 μm.

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Jonathan P. Taylor, Martin D. Glew, James A. Coakley Jr., William R. Tahnk, Steven Platnick, Peter V. Hobbs, and Ronald J. Ferek

Abstract

The influence of anthropogenic aerosols, in the form of ship exhaust effluent, on the microphysics and radiative properties of marine stratocumulus is studied using data gathered from the U.K. Met. Office C-130 and the University of Washington C-131A aircraft during the Monterey Area Ship Track (MAST) experiment in 1994. During the period of MAST, stratocumulus clouds were studied during 11 flights and a wide range of levels of background pollution was observed. The impact of the aerosol emitted from the ships was found to be very dependent on the background cloud microphysical conditions. In clouds of continental influence, the susceptibility of the cloud to further aerosol emissions was low, with a correspondingly weak microphysics and radiation signature in the ship tracks. In clean clouds, changes in droplet concentration of a factor of 2, and reductions in droplet size of up to 50%, were measured. These changes in the microphysics had significant impacts on the cloud radiative forcing. Furthermore, as a result of the cloud droplet size being reduced, in some cases the drizzle was suppressed in the clean clouds, resulting in an increase in liquid water path in the polluted ship track environment. The impact of this combined change in liquid water path and droplet radius was to increase the cloud radiative forcing by up to a factor of 4.

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Galina Wind, Steven Platnick, Michael D. King, Paul A. Hubanks, Michael J. Pavolonis, Andrew K. Heidinger, Ping Yang, and Bryan A. Baum

Abstract

Data Collection 5 processing for the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board the NASA Earth Observing System (EOS) Terra and Aqua spacecraft includes an algorithm for detecting multilayered clouds in daytime. The main objective of this algorithm is to detect multilayered cloud scenes, specifically optically thin ice cloud overlying a lower-level water cloud, that present difficulties for retrieving cloud effective radius using single-layer plane-parallel cloud models. The algorithm uses the MODIS 0.94-μm water vapor band along with CO2 bands to obtain two above-cloud precipitable water retrievals, the difference of which, in conjunction with additional tests, provides a map of where multilayered clouds might potentially exist. The presence of a multilayered cloud results in a large difference in retrievals of above-cloud properties between the CO2 and the 0.94-μm methods. In this paper the MODIS multilayered cloud algorithm is described, results of using the algorithm over example scenes are shown, and global statistics for multilayered clouds as observed by MODIS are discussed. A theoretical study of the algorithm behavior for simulated multilayered clouds is also given. Results are compared to two other comparable passive imager methods. A set of standard cloudy atmospheric profiles developed during the course of this investigation is also presented. The results lead to the conclusion that the MODIS multilayer cloud detection algorithm has some skill in identifying multilayered clouds with different thermodynamic phases.

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Michael D. King, W. Paul Menzel, Patrick S. Grant, Jeffrey S. Myers, G. Thomas Arnold, Steven E. Platnick, Liam E. Gumley, Si-Chee Tsay, Christopher C. Moeller, Michael Fitzgerald, Kenneth S. Brown, and Fred G. Osterwisch

Abstract

An airborne scanning spectrometer was developed for measuring reflected solar and emitted thermal radiation in 50 narrowband channels between 0.55 and 14.2 µm. The instrument provides multispectral images of outgoing radiation for purposes of developing and validating algorithms for the remote sensing of cloud, aerosol, water vapor, and surface properties from space. The spectrometer scans a swath width of 37 km, perpendicular to the aircraft flight track, with a 2.5-mrad instantaneous field of view. Images are thereby produced with a spatial resolution of 50 m at nadir from a nominal aircraft altitude of 20 km. Nineteen of the spectral bands correspond closely to comparable bands on the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), a facility instrument being developed for the Earth Observing System to be launched in the late 1990s. This paper describes the optical, mechanical, electrical, and data acquisition system design of the MODIS Airborne Simulator and presents some early results obtained from measurements acquired aboard the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ER-2 aircraft that illustrate the performance and quality of the data produced by this instrument.

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