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Colten A. Peterson, Qing Yue, Brian H. Kahn, Eric Fetzer, and Xianglei Huang

Abstract

Cloud phase retrievals from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) are evaluated against combined CloudSat–CALIPSO (CCL) observations using four years of data (2007–10) over the Arctic Ocean. AIRS cloud phase is evaluated over sea ice and open ocean separately using collocated CCL and AIRS fields of view (FOVs). In addition, AIRS and CCL cloud phase occurrences are evaluated seasonally, zonally, and with respect to total column water vapor (TCWV) and the temperature difference between 1000 and 300 hPa (ΔT 1000−300). Last, collocated MODIS cloud information is implemented in a 1-month case study to assess the relationship between AIRS and CCL phase decisions, cloud cover, and cloud phase throughout the AIRS FOV. Depending on the surface type, AIRS classification skill for single-layer ice and liquid-phase clouds is over the ranges of 85%–95% and 22%–32%, respectively. Most unknown and liquid AIRS phase classifications correspond to mixed-phase clouds. AIRS ice-phase relative occurrence is biased low relative to CCL. However, the liquid-phase relative occurrence is similar between the two instruments. When compared with the CCL climatology, AIRS accurately represents the seasonal cycle of liquid and ice cloud phase across the Arctic as well as the relationship between cloud phase and TCWV and ΔT 1000−300 regime in some cases. The more heterogeneous the MODIS cloud macrophysical properties within an AIRS FOV are, the more likely it is that the AIRS FOV is classified as unknown phase.

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