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Hélène Chepfer, Philippe Goloub, James Spinhirne, Pierre H. Flamant, Mario Lavorato, Laurent Sauvage, Gérard Brogniez, and Jacques Pelon


Bidirectional polarized reflectances measured with the POLDER-1 instrument on board Advanced Earth Observing Satellite-1 have been used to infer cloud altitude and thermodynamical phase (ice/liquid) at a global scale. This paper presents a validation of these properties for cirrus clouds. The validation presented here is based on comparisons between POLDER-1 retrievals and measurements collected with a ground-based lidar network. The scale differences between POLDER measurements and lidar data are treated by selecting homogeneous and stable cloud layers.

These comparisons show that the cloud altitude retrieval with POLDER is valid for optically thick cloud, and nonvalid for semitransparent and thin cirrus clouds. The limitations of the cloud altitude retrieval method are analyzed by using both comparisons between POLDER and lidar and simulations of the bidirectional polarized reflectances performed with a radiative transfer code to assess a threshold of validity of the POLDER retrieval method. The comparisons of lidar and POLDER data show that the cloud thermodynamical phase (ice/liquid) retrieval is satisfactory, and examples of cloud thermodynamical phase retrieval are presented as a function of cloud temperatures.

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