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Patrick Minnis, Joseph M. Alvarez, Kenneth Sassen, David F. Young, and Christian J. Grund


Cirrus cloud radiative and physical characteristics are determined using a combination of ground-based aircraft, and satellite measurements taken as part of the FIRE Cirrus Intensive Field observations (IFO) during October and November 1986. Lidar backscatter data are used with rawinsonde data to define cloud base, center, and top heights and the corresponding temperature Coincident GOES 4-km visible (0.65 μm) and 8-km infrared window (11.5 μm) radiances are analyzed to determine cloud emittances and reflectances. Infrared optical depth is computed from the emittance results. Visible optical depth is derived from reflectance using a theoretical ice crystal scattering model and an empirical bidirectional reflectance model. No clouds with visible optical depths greater than 5 or infrared optical depths less than 0.1 were used in the analysis.

Average cloud thickness ranged from 0.5 km to 8.0 km for the 71 scenes. Mean vertical beam emittances derived from cloud-center temperatures were 0.62 for all scenes compared to 0.33 for the cam study (27–28 October) reflecting the thinner clouds observed for the latter scenes. Relationships between cloud emittance, extinction coefficients, and temperature for the case study are very similar to those derived from earlier surface-based studies. The thicker clouds seen during the other IFO days yield different results. Emittances derived using cloud-top temperature were ratioed to those determined from cloud-center temperature. A nearly linear relationship between these ratios and cloud-center temperature holds promise for determining actual cloud-top temperatures and cloud thickness from visible and infrared radiance pairs.

The mean ratio of the visible scattering optical depth to the infrared absorption optical depth was 2.13 for these data. This scattering efficiency ratio shows a significant dependence on cloud temperature. Values of mean scattering efficiency as high as 2.6 suggest the presence of small ice particles at temperatures below 230 K. The parameterization of visible reflectance in terms of cloud optical depth and clear-sky reflectance shows promise as a simplified method for interpreting visible satellite data reflected from cirrus clouds. Large uncertainties in the optical parameters due to cloud reflectance anisotropy and shading were found by analyzing data for various solar zenith angles and for simultaneous AVHRR data. Inhomogeneities in the cloud fields result in uneven cloud shading that apparently causes the occurrence of anomalously dark, cloudy pixels in the GOES data. These shading effects complicate the interpretation of the satellite data. The results highlight the need for additional study of cirrus cloud scattering processes and remote sensing techniques.

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Paquita Zuidema, Claudia Alvarez, Samantha J. Kramer, Lillian Custals, Miguel Izaguirre, Peter Sealy, Joseph M. Prospero, and Edmund Blades


Surface dust mass concentrations, extracted from filters collected at Miami, Florida, and Ragged Point, Barbados, since 1974 and 1973, respectively, provide a rare, unusual, and important metric of the intercontinental transport of North African dust. The daily-resolved time series, updated through December 2018 for Miami and through December 2015 along with May–September 2016 and January–March and June–August 2017 for Barbados, indicate summer-mean dust mass concentrations have mostly decreased this decade at Miami, but not at Barbados, where instead the events containing the highest dust mass concentration events may be shifting to earlier in the year.

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