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William H. Hunt, David M. Winker, Mark A. Vaughan, Kathleen A. Powell, Patricia L. Lucker, and Carl Weimer

Abstract

This paper provides background material for a collection of Cloud–Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) algorithm papers that are to be published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology. It provides a brief description of the design and performance of CALIOP, a three-channel elastic backscatter lidar on the Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellite. After more than 2 yr of on-orbit operation, CALIOP performance continues to be excellent in the key areas of laser energy, signal-to-noise ratio, polarization sensitivity, and overall long-term stability, and the instrument continues to produce high-quality data products. There are, however, some areas where performance has been less than ideal. These include short-term changes in the calibration coefficients at both wavelengths as the satellite passes between dark and sunlight, some radiation-induced effects on both the detectors and the laser when passing through the South Atlantic Anomaly, and slow transient recovery on the 532-nm channels. Although these issues require some special treatment in data analysis, they do not seriously detract from the overall quality of the level 2 data products.

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David M. Winker, Mark A. Vaughan, Ali Omar, Yongxiang Hu, Kathleen A. Powell, Zhaoyan Liu, William H. Hunt, and Stuart A. Young

Abstract

The Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) is a two-wavelength polarization lidar that performs global profiling of aerosols and clouds in the troposphere and lower stratosphere. CALIOP is the primary instrument on the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) satellite, which has flown in formation with the NASA A-train constellation of satellites since May 2006. The global, multiyear dataset obtained from CALIOP provides a new view of the earth’s atmosphere and will lead to an improved understanding of the role of aerosols and clouds in the climate system. A suite of algorithms has been developed to identify aerosol and cloud layers and to retrieve a variety of optical and microphysical properties. CALIOP represents a significant advance over previous space lidars, and the algorithms that have been developed have many innovative aspects to take advantage of its capabilities. This paper provides a brief overview of the CALIPSO mission, the CALIOP instrument and data products, and an overview of the algorithms used to produce these data products.

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Mark A. Vaughan, Kathleen A. Powell, David M. Winker, Chris A. Hostetler, Ralph E. Kuehn, William H. Hunt, Brian J. Getzewich, Stuart A. Young, Zhaoyan Liu, and Matthew J. McGill

Abstract

Accurate knowledge of the vertical and horizontal extent of clouds and aerosols in the earth’s atmosphere is critical in assessing the planet’s radiation budget and for advancing human understanding of climate change issues. To retrieve this fundamental information from the elastic backscatter lidar data acquired during the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) mission, a selective, iterated boundary location (SIBYL) algorithm has been developed and deployed. SIBYL accomplishes its goals by integrating an adaptive context-sensitive profile scanner into an iterated multiresolution spatial averaging scheme. This paper provides an in-depth overview of the architecture and performance of the SIBYL algorithm. It begins with a brief review of the theory of target detection in noise-contaminated signals, and an enumeration of the practical constraints levied on the retrieval scheme by the design of the lidar hardware, the geometry of a space-based remote sensing platform, and the spatial variability of the measurement targets. Detailed descriptions are then provided for both the adaptive threshold algorithm used to detect features of interest within individual lidar profiles and the fully automated multiresolution averaging engine within which this profile scanner functions. The resulting fusion of profile scanner and averaging engine is specifically designed to optimize the trade-offs between the widely varying signal-to-noise ratio of the measurements and the disparate spatial resolutions of the detection targets. Throughout the paper, specific algorithm performance details are illustrated using examples drawn from the existing CALIPSO dataset. Overall performance is established by comparisons to existing layer height distributions obtained by other airborne and space-based lidars.

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Kathleen A. Powell, Chris A. Hostetler, Mark A. Vaughan, Kam-Pui Lee, Charles R. Trepte, Raymond R. Rogers, David M. Winker, Zhaoyan Liu, Ralph E. Kuehn, William H. Hunt, and Stuart A. Young

Abstract

The Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) mission was launched in April 2006 and has continuously acquired collocated multisensor observations of the spatial and optical properties of clouds and aerosols in the earth’s atmosphere. The primary payload aboard CALIPSO is the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP), which makes range-resolved measurements of elastic backscatter at 532 and 1064 nm and linear depolarization ratios at 532 nm. CALIOP measurements are important in reducing uncertainties that currently limit understanding of the global climate system, and it is essential that these measurements be accurately calibrated. This work describes the procedures used to calibrate the 532-nm measurements acquired during the nighttime portions of the CALIPSO orbits. Accurate nighttime calibration of the 532-nm parallel-channel data is fundamental to the success of the CALIOP measurement scheme, because the nighttime calibration is used to infer calibration across the day side of the orbits and all other channels are calibrated relative to the 532-nm parallel channel. The theoretical basis of the molecular normalization technique as applied to space-based lidar measurements is reviewed, and a comprehensive overview of the calibration algorithm implementation is provided. Also included is a description of a data filtering procedure that detects and removes spurious high-energy events that would otherwise introduce large errors into the calibration. Error estimates are derived and comparisons are made to validation data acquired by the NASA airborne high–spectral resolution lidar. Similar analyses are also presented for the 532-nm perpendicular-channel calibration technique.

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