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THE CLOUDSAT MISSION AND THE A-TRAIN

A New Dimension of Space-Based Observations of Clouds and Precipitation

Graeme L. Stephens
,
Deborah G. Vane
,
Ronald J. Boain
,
Gerald G. Mace
,
Kenneth Sassen
,
Zhien Wang
,
Anthony J. Illingworth
,
Ewan J. O'connor
,
William B. Rossow
,
Stephen L. Durden
,
Steven D. Miller
,
Richard T. Austin
,
Angela Benedetti
,
Cristian Mitrescu
, and
the CloudSat Science Team

CloudSat is a satellite experiment designed to measure the vertical structure of clouds from space. The expected launch of CloudSat is planned for 2004, and once launched, CloudSat will orbit in formation as part of a constellation of satellites (the A-Train) that includes NASA's Aqua and Aura satellites, a NASA–CNES lidar satellite (CALIPSO), and a CNES satellite carrying a polarimeter (PARASOL). A unique feature that CloudSat brings to this constellation is the ability to fly a precise orbit enabling the fields of view of the CloudSat radar to be overlapped with the CALIPSO lidar footprint and the other measurements of the constellation. The precision and near simultaneity of this overlap creates a unique multisatellite observing system for studying the atmospheric processes essential to the hydrological cycle.

The vertical profiles of cloud properties provided by CloudSat on the global scale fill a critical gap in the investigation of feedback mechanisms linking clouds to climate. Measuring these profiles requires a combination of active and passive instruments, and this will be achieved by combining the radar data of CloudSat with data from other active and passive sensors of the constellation. This paper describes the underpinning science and general overview of the mission, provides some idea of the expected products and anticipated application of these products, and the potential capability of the A-Train for cloud observations. Notably, the CloudSat mission is expected to stimulate new areas of research on clouds. The mission also provides an important opportunity to demonstrate active sensor technology for future scientific and tactical applications. The CloudSat mission is a partnership between NASA's JPL, the Canadian Space Agency, Colorado State University, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Kenneth Sassen
,
David O'C. Starr
,
Gerald G. Mace
,
Michael R. Poellot
,
S.H. Melfi
,
Wynn L. Eberhard
,
James D. Spinhirne
,
E.W. Eloranta
,
Donald E. Hagen
, and
John Hallett

Abstract

In presenting an overview of the cirrus clouds comprehensively studied by ground-based and airborne sensors from Coffeyville, Kansas, during the 5–6 December 1992 Project FIRE IFO II case study period, evidence is provided that volcanic aerosols from the June 1991 Pinatubo eruptions may have significantly influenced the formation and maintenance of the cirrus. Following the local appearance of a spur of stratospheric volcanic debris from the subtropics, a series of jet streaks subsequently conditioned the troposphere through tropopause foldings with sulfur-based particles that became effective cloud-forming nuclei in cirrus clouds. Aerosol and ozone measurements suggest a complicated history of stratospheric-tropospheric exchanges embedded within the upper-level flow, and cirrus cloud formation was noted to occur locally at the boundaries of stratospheric aerosol-enriched layers that became humidified through diffusion, precipitation, or advective processes. Apparent cirrus cloud alterations include abnormally high ice crystal concentrations (up to ∼600 L−1), complex radial ice crystal types, and relatively large haze particles in cirrus uncinus cell heads at temperatures between −40° and −50°C. Implications for volcanic-cirrus cloud climate effects and usual (nonvolcanic aerosol) jet stream cirrus cloud formation are discussed.

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Eugene E. Clothiaux
,
Kenneth P. Moran
,
Brooks E. Martner
,
Thomas P. Ackerman
,
Gerald G. Mace
,
Taneil Uttal
,
James H. Mather
,
Kevin B. Widener
,
Mark A. Miller
, and
Daniel J. Rodriguez

Abstract

During the past decade, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), through the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program, has supported the development of several millimeter-wavelength radars for the study of clouds. This effort has culminated in the development and construction of a 35-GHz radar system by the Environmental Technology Laboratory (ETL) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Radar systems based on the NOAA ETL design are now operating at the DOE ARM Southern Great Plains central facility in central Oklahoma and the DOE ARM North Slope of Alaska site near Barrow, Alaska. Operational systems are expected to come online within the next year at the DOE ARM tropical western Pacific sites located at Manus, Papua New Guinea, and Nauru. In order for these radars to detect the full range of atmospheric hydrometeors, specific modes of operation must be implemented on them that are tuned to accurately detect the reflectivities of specific types of hydrometeors. The set of four operational modes that are currently in use on these radars are presented and discussed. The characteristics of the data produced by these modes of operation are also presented in order to illustrate the nature of the cloud products that are, and will be, derived from them on a continuous basis.

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Jennifer M. Comstock
,
Robert d'Entremont
,
Daniel DeSlover
,
Gerald G. Mace
,
Sergey Y. Matrosov
,
Sally A . McFarlane
,
Patrick Minnis
,
David Mitchell
,
Kenneth Sassen
,
Matthew D. Shupe
,
David D. Turner
, and
Zhien Wang

The large horizontal extent, with its location in the cold upper troposphere, and ice composition make cirrus clouds important modulators of the Earth's radiation budget and climate. Cirrus cloud microphysical properties are difficult to measure and model because they are inhomogeneous in nature and their ice crystal size distribution and habit are not well characterized. Accurate retrievals of cloud properties are crucial for improving the representation of cloud-scale processes in largescale models and for accurately predicting the Earth's future climate. A number of passive and active remote sensing retrieval algorithms exist for estimating the microphysical properties of upper-tropospheric clouds. We believe significant progress has been made in the evolution of these retrieval algorithms in the last decade; however, there is room for improvement. Members of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program Cloud Properties Working Group are involved in an intercomparison of optical depth τ and ice water path in ice clouds retrieved using ground-based instruments. The goals of this intercomparison are to evaluate the accuracy of state-of-the-art algorithms, quantify the uncertainties, and make recommendations for their improvement.

Currently, there are significant discrepancies among the algorithms for ice clouds with very small optical depths (τ < 0.3) and those with 1 < τ < 5. The good news is that for thin clouds (0.3 < τ < 1), the algorithms tend to converge. In this first stage of the intercomparison, we present results from a representative case study, compare the retrieved cloud properties with aircraft and satellite measurements, and perform a radiative closure experiment to begin gauging the accuracy of these retrieval algorithms.

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D.L. Westphal
,
S. Kinne
,
P. Pilewskie
,
J.M. Alvarez
,
P. Minnis
,
D.F. Young
,
S.G. Benjamin
,
W.L. Eberhard
,
R.A. Kropfli
,
S.Y. Matrosov
,
J.B. Snider
,
T.A. Uttal
,
A.J. Heymsfield
,
G.G. Mace
,
S.H. Melfi
,
D.O'C. Starr
, and
J.J. Soden

Abstract

Observations from a wide variety of instruments and platforms are used to validate many different aspects of a three-dimensional mesoscale simulation of the dynamics, cloud microphysics, and radiative transfer of a cirrus cloud system observed on 26 November 1991 during the second cirrus field program of the First International Satellite Cloud Climatology Program (ISCCP) Regional Experiment (FIRE-II) located in southeastern Kansas. The simulation was made with a mesoscale dynamical model utilizing a simplified bulk water cloud scheme and a spectral model of radiative transfer. Expressions for cirrus optical properties for solar and infrared wavelength intervals as functions of ice water content and effective particle radius are modified for the midlatitude cirrus observed during FIRE-II and are shown to compare favorably with explicit size-resolving calculations of the optical properties. Rawinsonde, Raman lidar, and satellite data are evaluated and combined to produce a time–height cross section of humidity at the central FIRE-II site for model verification. Due to the wide spacing of rawinsondes and their infrequent release, important moisture features go undetected and are absent in the conventional analyses. The upper-tropospheric humidities used for the initial conditions were generally less than 50% of those inferred from satellite data, yet over the course of a 24-h simulation the model produced a distribution that closely resembles the large-scale features of the satellite analysis. The simulated distribution and concentration of ice compares favorably with data from radar, lidar, satellite, and aircraft. Direct comparison is made between the radiative transfer simulation and data from broadband and spectral sensors and inferred quantities such as cloud albedo, optical depth, and top-of-the-atmosphere 11-µm brightness temperature, and the 6.7-µm brightness temperature. Comparison is also made with theoretical heating rates calculated using the rawinsonde data and measured ice water size distributions near the central site. For this case study, and perhaps for most other mesoscale applications, the differences between the observed and simulated radiative quantities are due more to errors in the prediction of ice water content, than to errors in the optical properties or the radiative transfer solution technique.

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Robert A. Houze Jr.
,
Lynn A. McMurdie
,
Walter A. Petersen
,
Mathew R. Schwaller
,
William Baccus
,
Jessica D. Lundquist
,
Clifford F. Mass
,
Bart Nijssen
,
Steven A. Rutledge
,
David R. Hudak
,
Simone Tanelli
,
Gerald G. Mace
,
Michael R. Poellot
,
Dennis P. Lettenmaier
,
Joseph P. Zagrodnik
,
Angela K. Rowe
,
Jennifer C. DeHart
,
Luke E. Madaus
,
Hannah C. Barnes
, and
V. Chandrasekar

Abstract

The Olympic Mountains Experiment (OLYMPEX) took place during the 2015/16 fall–winter season in the vicinity of the mountainous Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. The goals of OLYMPEX were to provide physical and hydrologic ground validation for the U.S.–Japan Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite mission and, more specifically, to study how precipitation in Pacific frontal systems is modified by passage over coastal mountains. Four transportable scanning dual-polarization Doppler radars of various wavelengths were installed. Surface stations were placed at various altitudes to measure precipitation rates, particle size distributions, and fall velocities. Autonomous recording cameras monitored and recorded snow accumulation. Four research aircraft supplied by NASA investigated precipitation processes and snow cover, and supplemental rawinsondes and dropsondes were deployed during precipitation events. Numerous Pacific frontal systems were sampled, including several reaching “atmospheric river” status, warm- and cold-frontal systems, and postfrontal convection.

Open access
Greg M. McFarquhar
,
Christopher S. Bretherton
,
Roger Marchand
,
Alain Protat
,
Paul J. DeMott
,
Simon P. Alexander
,
Greg C. Roberts
,
Cynthia H. Twohy
,
Darin Toohey
,
Steve Siems
,
Yi Huang
,
Robert Wood
,
Robert M. Rauber
,
Sonia Lasher-Trapp
,
Jorgen Jensen
,
Jeffrey L. Stith
,
Jay Mace
,
Junshik Um
,
Emma Järvinen
,
Martin Schnaiter
,
Andrew Gettelman
,
Kevin J. Sanchez
,
Christina S. McCluskey
,
Lynn M. Russell
,
Isabel L. McCoy
,
Rachel L. Atlas
,
Charles G. Bardeen
,
Kathryn A. Moore
,
Thomas C. J. Hill
,
Ruhi S. Humphries
,
Melita D. Keywood
,
Zoran Ristovski
,
Luke Cravigan
,
Robyn Schofield
,
Chris Fairall
,
Marc D. Mallet
,
Sonia M. Kreidenweis
,
Bryan Rainwater
,
John D’Alessandro
,
Yang Wang
,
Wei Wu
,
Georges Saliba
,
Ezra J. T. Levin
,
Saisai Ding
,
Francisco Lang
,
Son C. H. Truong
,
Cory Wolff
,
Julie Haggerty
,
Mike J. Harvey
,
Andrew R. Klekociuk
, and
Adrian McDonald

Abstract

Weather and climate models are challenged by uncertainties and biases in simulating Southern Ocean (SO) radiative fluxes that trace to a poor understanding of cloud, aerosol, precipitation, and radiative processes, and their interactions. Projects between 2016 and 2018 used in situ probes, radar, lidar, and other instruments to make comprehensive measurements of thermodynamics, surface radiation, cloud, precipitation, aerosol, cloud condensation nuclei (CCN), and ice nucleating particles over the SO cold waters, and in ubiquitous liquid and mixed-phase clouds common to this pristine environment. Data including soundings were collected from the NSF–NCAR G-V aircraft flying north–south gradients south of Tasmania, at Macquarie Island, and on the R/V Investigator and RSV Aurora Australis. Synergistically these data characterize boundary layer and free troposphere environmental properties, and represent the most comprehensive data of this type available south of the oceanic polar front, in the cold sector of SO cyclones, and across seasons. Results show largely pristine environments with numerous small and few large aerosols above cloud, suggesting new particle formation and limited long-range transport from continents, high variability in CCN and cloud droplet concentrations, and ubiquitous supercooled water in thin, multilayered clouds, often with small-scale generating cells near cloud top. These observations demonstrate how cloud properties depend on aerosols while highlighting the importance of dynamics and turbulence that likely drive heterogeneity of cloud phase. Satellite retrievals confirmed low clouds were responsible for radiation biases. The combination of models and observations is examining how aerosols and meteorology couple to control SO water and energy budgets.

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