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Xiaozhen Xiong, Knut Stamnes, and Dan Lubin


A method is presented for retrieving the broadband albedo over the Arctic Ocean using advanced very high resolution radiometer (AVHRR) data obtained from NOAA polar-orbiting satellites. Visible and near-infrared albedos over snow and ice surfaces are retrieved from AVHRR channels 1 and 2, respectively, and the broadband shortwave albedo is derived through narrow-to-broadband conversion (NTBC). It is found that field measurements taken under different conditions yield different NTBC coefficients. Model simulations over snow and ice surfaces based on rigorous radiative transfer theory support this finding. The lack of a universal set of NTBC coefficients implies a 5%–10% error in the retrieved broadband albedo. An empirical formula is derived for converting albedo values from AVHRR channels 1 and 2 into a broadband albedo under different snow and ice surface conditions. Uncertain calibration of AVHRR channels 1 and 2 is the largest source of uncertainty, and an error of 5% in satellite-measured radiance leads to an error of 5%–10% in the retrieved albedo. NOAA-14 AVHRR data obtained over the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA) ice camp are used to derive the seasonal variation of the surface albedo over the Arctic Ocean between April and August of 1998. Comparison with surface measurements of albedo by Perovich and others near the SHEBA ice camp shows very good agreement. On average, the retrieval error of albedo from AVHRR is 5%–10%.

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Xiaozhen Xiong, Dan Lubin, Wei Li, and Knut Stamnes


This study examines the validity and limitations associated with retrieval of cloud optical depth τ and effective droplet size r e in the Arctic from Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) channels 2 (0.725–1.10 μm), 3 (3.55–3.93 μm), and 4 (10.3–11.3 μm). The error in r e is found to be normally less than 10%, but the uncertainty in τ can be more than 50% for a 10% uncertainty in the satellite-measured radiance. Model simulations show that the satellite-retrieved cloud optical depth τ sat is overestimated by up to 20% if the vertical cloud inhomogeneity is ignored and is underestimated by more than 50% if overlap of cirrus and liquid water clouds is ignored. Under partially cloudy conditions, τ sat is larger than that derived from surface-measured downward solar irradiance (τ surf) by 40%–130%, depending on cloud-cover fraction. Here, τ sat derived from NOAA-14 AVHRR data agrees well with τ surf derived from surface measurements of solar irradiance at the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA) ice camp in summer, but τ sat is about 2.3 times τ surf before the onset of snowmelt. This overestimate of τ sat is mainly due to the high reflectivity in AVHRR channel 2 over snow/ice surfaces, the presence of partial cloud cover, and inaccurate representation of the scattering phase function for mixed-phase clouds.

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