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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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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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