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Larry Di Girolamo and Roger Davies

Abstract

The authors have developed a cloud mask technique that may be applied to the efficient selection of “clear enough” scenes for image navigation. While the mask can be applied generally, the motivation for its development comes from its intended use on Multiangle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR) imagery. The difficulties in detecting clouds in the presence of land–water boundaries when using prenavigated imagery is overcome by using a simple two-step direct threshold technique. The two steps involve the thresholding of two observables derived for each pixel. The first is a 0.86-μm reflectance. The second is a new observable, D = | NDVI |b R 1 −2, where NDVI = (R 2R 1)(R 2 + R 1)−1, R 2 is the 0.86-μm reflectance, R 1 is the 0.67-μm reflectance, and b is chosen so as to maximize the separation between clear and cloudy pixels. The success of the cloud mask is shown by applying it to degraded AVIRIS data. The authors make comparisons with a more popular NDVI technique to show the advantage of our method.

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Guangyu Zhao and Larry Di Girolamo

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The Multiangle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR), on board the Earth Observing System (EOS) satellite Terra, is the first high-resolution imager to make global, near-simultaneous multispectral and multiangle radiometric measurements of the earth. A standard product of MISR is the radiometric camera-by-camera cloud mask (RCCM), which provides a cloud mask for each of the nine MISR cameras. Validation of the RCCM is ongoing, and in this paper an automatic and efficient technique is described that is being used to flag scenes for which the quality of the RCCM may be suspect, thus allowing rapid convergence toward validation. The technique, herein called the F θ technique, makes use of the physical relationship that cloudiness increases with viewing obliquity. Where this behavior is not met for a given scene, the F θ technique flags the scene as potentially problematic. The technique is applied to ∼4 months of MISR data to demonstrate its utility and to identify common problems that exist in version F01_0010 of the RCCM. In the course of research into the F θ technique, the existence of greater radiative and spatial contrast between clear and cloudy pixels in oblique views that measure radiation in the forward-scatter direction, as compared with oblique views that measure radiation in the backscatter direction, have been observed. As a result, thinner clouds can be detected in views that measure radiation in the forward-scatter direction as compared with oblique views that measure radiation in the backscatter direction for a given air mass. It is hypothesized that a similar effect must exist with other cloud detection techniques using radiative and spatial measures constructed from solar channels. It is shown that this effect manifests itself as a unique angular signature in the MISR RCCM that may be exploited to flag scenes as potentially being dominated by thin cirrus or a thick haze.

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Alexandra L. Jones and Larry Di Girolamo

Abstract

The Intercomparison of 3D Radiation Codes (I3RC) community Monte Carlo model has been extended to include a source of photon emission from the surface and atmosphere, thereby making it capable of simulating scalar radiative transfer in a 3D scattering, absorbing, and emitting domain with both internal and external sources. The theoretical basis, computational implementation, verification of the internal emission, and computational performance of the resulting model, the “IMC+emission,” is presented. Thorough verification includes fundamental tests of reciprocity and energy conservation, comparison to analytical solutions, and comparison with another 3D model, the Spherical Harmonics Discrete Ordinate Method (SHDOM). All comparisons to fundamental tests and analytical solutions are accurate to within the precision of the simulations—typically better than 0.05%. Comparison cases to SHDOM were typically within a few percent, except for flux divergence near cloud edges, where the effects of grid definition between the two models manifest themselves. Finally, the model is applied to the established I3RC case 4 cumulus cloud field to provide a benchmark result, and computational performance and strong and weak scaling metrics are presented. The outcome is a thoroughly vetted, publicly available, open-source benchmark tool to study 3D radiative transfer from either internal or external sources of radiation at wavelengths for which scattering, emission, and absorption are important.

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Eric R. Snodgrass, Larry Di Girolamo, and Robert M. Rauber

Abstract

Precipitation characteristics of trade wind clouds over the Atlantic Ocean near Barbuda are derived from radar and aircraft data and are compared with satellite-observed cloud fields collected during the Rain in Cumulus over the Ocean (RICO) field campaign. S-band reflectivity measurements Z were converted to rainfall rates R using a Z–R relationship derived from aircraft measurements. Daily rainfall rates varied from 0 to 22 mm day−1. The area-averaged rainfall rate for the 62-day period was 2.37 mm day−1. If corrected for evaporation below cloud base, this value is reduced to 2.23 mm day−1, which translates to a latent heat flux to the atmosphere of 63 W m−2. When compared with the wintertime ocean-surface latent heat flux from this region, the average return of water to the ocean through precipitation processes within the trade wind layer during RICO was 31%–39%. A weak diurnal cycle was observed in the area-averaged rainfall rate. The magnitude of the rainfall and the frequency of its occurrence had a maximum in the predawn hours and a minimum in the midmorning to early afternoon on 64% of the days. Radar data were collocated with data from the Multiangle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR) to develop relationships between cloud-top height, cloud fraction, 866-nm bidirectional reflectance factor (BRF), and radar-derived precipitation. The collocation took place at the overpass time of ∼1045 local time. These relationships revealed that between 5.5% and 10.5% of the cloudy area had rainfall rates that were > 0.1 mm h−1, and between 1.5% and 3.5% of the cloudy area had rainfall rates that were >1 mm h−1. Cloud-top heights between ∼3 and 4 km and BRFs between 0.4 and 1.0 contributed ∼50% of the total rainfall. For cloudy pixels having detectable rain, average rainfall rates increased from ∼1 to 4 mm h−1 as cloud-top heights increased from ∼1 to 4 km. Rainfall rates were closely tied to the type of mesoscale organization, with much of the rainfall originating from shallow (<5 km) cumulus clusters shaped as arcs associated with cold-pool outflows.

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Jennifer L. Davison, Robert M. Rauber, and Larry Di Girolamo

Abstract

Persistent layers of enhanced equivalent radar reflectivity factor and reduced spectral width were commonly observed within cloud-free regions of the tropical marine boundary layer (TMBL) with the National Center for Atmospheric Research S-Pol radar during the Rain in Cumulus over the Ocean (RICO) field campaign. Bragg scattering is shown to be the primary source of these layers. Two mechanisms are proposed to explain the Bragg scattering layers (BSLs), the first involving turbulent mixing and the second involving detrainment and evaporation of cloudy air. These mechanisms imply that BSLs should exist in layers with tops (bases) defined by local relative humidity (RH) minima (maxima). The relationship between BSLs and RH is explored.

An equation for the vertical gradient of radio refractivity N is derived, and a scale analysis is used to demonstrate the close relationship between vertical RH and N gradients. This is tested using the derived radar BSL boundary altitudes, 131 surface-based soundings, and 34 sets of about six near-coincident, aircraft-released dropsondes. First, dropsonde data are used to quantify the finescale variability of the RH field. Then, within limits imposed by this variability, altitudes of tops (bases) of radar BSLs are shown to agree with altitudes of RH minima (maxima). These findings imply that S-band radars can be used to track the vertical profile of RH variations as a function of time and height, that the vertical RH profile of the TMBL is highly variable over horizontal scales as small as 60 km, and that BSLs are a persistent, coherent feature that delineate aspects of TMBL mesoscale structure.

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Hilary A. Minor, Robert M. Rauber, Sabine Göke, and Larry Di Girolamo

Abstract

Shallow marine trade wind cumuli are one of the most prevalent cloud types in the tropical atmosphere. Understanding how precipitation forms within these clouds is necessary to advance our knowledge concerning their role in climate. This paper presents a statistical analysis of the characteristic heights and times at which precipitation in trade wind clouds passes through distinct stages in its evolution as defined by the equivalent radar reflectivity factor at horizontal polarization ZH, the differential reflectivity Z DR, and the spatial correlation between and averages of these variables. The data were obtained during the Rain in Cumulus over the Ocean (RICO) field campaign by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) S-band dual-polarization (S-Pol) Doppler radar, the National Science Foundation (NSF)–NCAR C130 aircraft, and soundings launched near the radar. The data consisted of 76 trade cumuli that were tracked from early echo development through rainout on six days during RICO. Trade wind clouds used in the statistical analyses were segregated based on giant condensation nuclei (GCN) measurements made during low-level aircraft flight legs on the six days.

This study found that the rate of precipitation formation in shallow marine cumulus was unrelated to the GCN concentration in the ambient environment. Instead, the rate at which precipitation developed in the clouds appeared to be related to the mesoscale forcing as suggested by the cloud organization. Although GCN had no influence on the rate of precipitation development, the data suggest that they do contribute to a modification of the rain drop size distribution within the clouds. With very few exceptions, high threshold values of Z DR were found well above cloud base on days with high GCN concentrations. On the days that were exceptions, these threshold values were almost always achieved near cloud base.

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Jennifer L. Davison, Robert M. Rauber, Larry Di Girolamo, and Margaret A. LeMone

Abstract

This paper examines the structure and variability of the moisture field in the tropical marine boundary layer (TMBL) as defined by Bragg scattering layers (BSLs) observed with S-band radar. Typically, four to five BSLs were present in the TMBL, including the transition layer at the top of the surface-based mixed layer. The transition-layer depth (~350 m) exhibited a weak diurnal cycle because of changes in the mixed-layer depth. BSLs and the “clear” layers between them each had a median thickness of about 350 m and a lifetime over the radar of 8.4 h, with about 25% having lifetimes longer than 20 h. More (fewer) BSLs were present when surface winds had a more southerly (northerly) component. Both BSLs and clear layers increased in depth with increasing rain rates, with the rainiest days producing layers that were about 100 m thicker than those on the driest days. The analyses imply that the relative humidity (RH) field in the TMBL exhibits layering on scales observable by radar. Satellite and wind profiler measurements show that the layered RH structure is related, at least in part, to detraining cloudy air.

Based on analyses in this series of papers, a revised conceptual model of the TMBL is presented that emphasizes moisture variability and incorporates multiple moist and dry layers and a higher TMBL top. The model is supported by comparing BSL tops with satellite-derived cloud tops. This comparison suggests that the layered RH structure is related, in part, to cloud detrainment at preferred altitudes within the TMBL. The potential ramifications of this change in TMBL conceptualization on modeling of the TMBL are discussed.

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Jennifer L. Davison, Robert M. Rauber, Larry Di Girolamo, and Margaret A. LeMone

Abstract

This paper investigates wintertime tropical marine boundary layer (TMBL) statistical characteristics over the western North Atlantic using the complete set of island-launched soundings from the Rain in Cumulus over the Ocean (RICO) experiment. The soundings are subdivided into undisturbed and disturbed classifications using two discriminators: 1) dates chosen by Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) Cloud System Studies (GCSS) investigators to construct the mean RICO sounding and 2) daily average rain rates.

A wide range of relative humidity (RH) values was observed between the surface and 8.0 km. At 2.0 km, half the RH values were within 56%–89%; at 4.0 km, half were within 13%–61%. The rain-rate method of separating disturbed and undisturbed soundings appears more meaningful than the GCSS method. The median RH for disturbed conditions using the rain-rate method showed moister conditions from the surface to 8.0 km, with maximum RH differences of 30%–40%. Moist air generally extended higher on disturbed than undisturbed days.

Based on equivalent potential temperature, wind direction, and RH analyses, the most common altitude marking the TMBL top was about 4.0 km. Temperature inversions (over both 50- and 350-m intervals) were observed at every altitude above 1.2 km; there were no dominant inversion heights and most of the inversions were weak. Wind direction analyses indicated that winds within the TMBL originated from more tropical latitudes on disturbed days.

The analyses herein suggest that the RICO profile used to initialize many model simulations of this environment represents only a small subset of the broad range of possible conditions characterizing the wintertime trades.

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Robert M. Rauber, Guangyu Zhao, Larry Di Girolamo, and Marilé Colón-Robles

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of trade wind cumulus clouds on aerosol properties in the near-cloud environment using data from the Rain in Cumulus over the Ocean (RICO) campaign. Aerosol size distributions, particle concentrations, and optical properties are examined as a function of altitude and distance from cloud, at ambient relative humidity (RH) and adjusted to a constant RH to isolate effects of humidification from other processes.

The cloud humidity halo extended about 1500–2000 m from the cloud edge, with no clear altitude dependence on horizontal extent over an altitude range of 600–1700 m. The combined effects of vertical transport of aerosol by clouds and cloud processing contributed to the modification of aerosol size distributions within the clouds' humidity halos, particularly close to the cloud boundaries. Backscatter at 532 nm, calculated from the aerosol properties, exhibited no distinguishable trend with altitude within 400 m of cloud edges, increased toward lower altitudes beyond 400 m, and decreased away from cloud boundaries at all altitudes. The mean aerosol diameter was found to rapidly decline from 0.8 to 0.4 μm from near the cloud boundary to the boundary of the humidity halo. Aerosol optical depth at 532 nm within the layer between 600 and 1700 m increased near exponentially from 0.02 to 0.2 toward the cloud boundaries within the humidity halo. These trends agreed qualitatively with past space-based lidar measurements of trade wind cloud margins, although quantitative differences were noted that likely arose from different sampling strategies and other factors.

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David M. Plummer, Sabine Göke, Robert M. Rauber, and Larry Di Girolamo

Abstract

Dual-polarization radar measurements and in situ measurements of supercooled liquid water and ice particles within orographic cloud systems are used to develop probabilistic criteria for identifying mixed-phase versus ice-phase regions of sub-0°C clouds. The motivation for this study is the development of quantitative criteria for identification of potential aircraft icing conditions in clouds using polarization radar. The measurements were obtained during the Mesoscale Alpine Programme (MAP) with the National Center for Atmospheric Research S-band dual-polarization Doppler radar (S-Pol) and Electra aircraft. The comparison of the radar and aircraft measurements required the development of an automated algorithm to match radar and aircraft observations in time and space. This algorithm is described, and evaluations are presented to verify its accuracy. Three polarization radar parameters, the radar reflectivity factor at horizontal polarization (ZH), the differential reflectivity (Z DR), and the specific differential phase (K DP), are first separately shown to be statistically distinguishable between conditions in mixed- and ice-phase clouds, even when an estimate of measurement uncertainty is included. Probability distributions for discrimination of mixed-phase versus ice-phase clouds are then developed using the matched radar and aircraft measurements. The probability distributions correspond well to a basic physical understanding of ice particle growth by riming and vapor deposition, both of which may occur in mixed-phase conditions. To the extent that the probability distributions derived for the MAP orographic clouds can be applied to other cloud systems, they provide a simple tool for warning aircraft of the likelihood that supercooled water may be encountered in regions of clouds.

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