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Xiaolei Niu and Rachel T. Pinker

Abstract

Satellite estimates of surface shortwave radiation (SWR) at high latitudes agree less with ground observations than at other locations; moreover, ground observations at such latitudes are scarce. The comprehensive observations of radiative fluxes made since 1977 by the Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program at the Barrow North Slope of Alaska (NSA) site are unique. They provide an opportunity to revisit accuracy estimates of remote sensing products at these latitudes, which are problematic because the melting of snow/ice and lower solar elevation make the satellite retrievals more difficult.

A newly developed inference scheme for deriving SWR from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS; Terra and Aqua) that utilizes updated information on surface properties over snow and sea ice will be evaluated against these ground measurements and compared with other satellite and model products. Results show that the MODIS-based estimates are in good agreement with observations, with a bias of −5.3 W m−2 (−4% of mean observations) for the downward SWR, a bias of −5.3 W m−2 (−7%) for upward SWR, a bias of 1 (1%) for net SWR, and a bias of −0.001 (0%) for surface albedo. As such, the MODIS estimates of SWR can be useful for numerical model evaluations and for estimating the energy budgets at high latitudes.

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Rachel T. Pinker and Istyan Laszlo

Abstract

No abstract available.

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Robert C. Levy and Rachel T. Pinker

Bridging the gap between current research and the classroom is a major challenge to today's instructor, especially in the sciences where progress happens quickly. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Maryland teamed up to design a graduate class project intended to provide a hands-on introduction to the physical basis for the retrieval of aerosol properties from state-of-the-art Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) observations. Students learned to recognize spectral signatures of atmospheric aerosols and perform spectral inversions. They became acquainted with the operational MODIS aerosol retrieval algorithm over oceans and methods for its evaluation, including comparisons with ground-based Aerosol Robotic Network sun-photometer data.

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Jaime Garatuza-Payan, Rachel T. Pinker, and W. James Shuttleworth

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The first stage in a program of research to develop a regional model capable of describing the hydrology of semiarid areas of northwest Mexico and southwest United States, using remotely sensed data, is described in this paper. Finescale information on cloud cover is required to provide the radiation forcing for making simple, near-real-time estimates of daytime evaporation in hydrologic models, and frequent satellite observations have the potential to document cloud variability at high spatial and temporal resolutions. In this study, the operational framework for obtaining information on cloud cover was developed and applied, using hourly sampled, 1-km resolution GOES-7 data as received in real time in Obregon, Mexico. These satellite data were collected and analyzed from 1 July 1993 to 31 July 1994 for an approximately 106 km2 rectangular area in northwest Mexico. An efficient method was devised to provide clear-sky radiance images for the study area, at 4 km × 4 km resolution, and updated at monthly intervals, by applying thresholds indexed to the locally appropriate clear-sky radiance, thereby allowing for spatial and temporal changes in surface conditions. Manual image inspection and comparison with ground-based measurements of cloud cover and surface solar radiation provided reassurance that the high-resolution cloud-screening algorithm gave satisfactory results.

This algorithm was applied to investigate the effects of temporal sampling frequency on estimates of daytime-average cloud cover and to document aspects of the cloud characteristics for the study area. The high-resolution algorithm proved to be efficient and reliable and bodes well for its future use in providing high-resolution estimates of surface solar radiation for use in a hydrologic model. Monthly clear-sky composite images were consistently generated, showing little evidence of contamination by persistent clouds, and tracked the seasonal evolution in surface radiance. Comparison with ground-based measurements gave confidence in the credibility of the satellite estimates and revealed weaknesses in the Campbell–Stokes solarimeter. The seasonal evolution of spatial patterns of cloud and its diurnal cycle were investigated. The average cloudiness for the study area is 0.25, with a substantial annual variation from 0.19 in April to 0.40 in December. Persistent cloudy conditions throughout the year were detected over the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California. The derived high-resolution cloud estimates, when compared with similar estimates from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP D1), were about half those obtained with the low-resolution data, indicating that, in this complex study area where land and water boundaries are in close proximity, low-resolution satellite observations of clouds may not be able to depict the true cloud cover.

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Donglian Sun, Rachel T. Pinker, and Jeffery B. Basara

Abstract

The next generation of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES M–Q) will have only one thermal window channel instead of the current two split-window thermal channels. There is a need to evaluate the usefulness of this new configuration to retrieve parameters that presently are derived by utilizing the split-window characteristics. Two algorithms for deriving land surface temperatures (LSTs) from the GOES M–Q series have been developed and will be presented here. Both algorithms are based on radiative transfer theory; one uses ancillary total precipitable water (TPW) data, and the other is a two-channel (3.9 and 11.0 μm) algorithm that aims to improve atmospheric correction by utilizing the middle infrared (MIR) channel. The proposed algorithms are compared with a well-known generalized split-window algorithm. It is found that by adding TPW to the 11.0-μm channel, similar results to those from the generalized split-window algorithm are attained, and the combination of 3.9 and 11.0 μm yields further improvement. GOES M–Q retrievals (simulated with GOES-8 observations), when evaluated against skin temperature observations from the Oklahoma Mesonet, show that with the proposed two-channel algorithm, LST can be determined at an rms accuracy of about 2 K. The proposed algorithms are also applicable for the derivation of sea surface temperatures (SSTs) for which less restrictive assumptions on surface emissivity apply.

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Margaret M. Wonsick, Rachel T. Pinker, Wen Meng, and Louis Nguyen

Abstract

Parameters derived from satellite observations depend on the quality of the calibration method applied to the raw satellite radiance measurements. This study investigates the sensitivity of absolute reflectance, derived cloud cover, and estimated surface shortwave (SW) downward fluxes to two different calibration methods for the visible sensor aboard the eighth Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-8). The first method was developed at NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS), and the second at the NASA Langley Research Center. Differences in visible reflectance ranged from −0.5% to 3%. The average difference in monthly mean cloud amount was ∼3%, and the average difference in monthly mean shortwave downward flux was 5 W m−2. Differences in bias and rms of the SW fluxes when evaluated against ground station measurements were less than 3 W m−2. Neither calibration method was shown to consistently outperform the other. This evaluation yields an estimate of the errors in fluxes that can be attributed to calibration.

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Margaret M. Wonsick, Rachel T. Pinker, and Yves Govaerts

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This study focuses on documenting the seasonal progression of the Asian monsoon by analyzing clouds and convection in the pre-, peak-, and postmonsoon seasons. This effort was possible as a result of the movement of Meteosat-5 over the Indian continent during the Indian Ocean Experiment (INDOEX) starting in 1998. The Meteosat-5 observations provide a unique opportunity to study in detail the daytime diurnal variability of clouds and components of the radiation budget. Hourly Meteosat-5 observations are utilized to characterize the Indian monsoon daytime cloud variability on seasonal and diurnal time scales. Distinct patterns of variability can be identified during the various stages of the monsoon cycle. The daytime (0800–1500 LST) diurnal cycle of total cloud amounts is generally flat during the premonsoon season, U shaped during peak-monsoon season, and ascending toward an afternoon peak in the postmonsoon season. Low clouds dominate the Tibetan Plateau and northern Arabian Sea while high clouds are more frequent in the southern Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. An afternoon peak in high clouds is most prominent in central India and the Bay of Bengal. Afternoon convection peaks earlier over water than land. Preliminary comparison of cloud amounts from Meteosat-5, International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) D1, and model output from the 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40) and the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis indicates a large disparity among cloud amounts from the various sources, primarily during the peak-monsoon period. The availability of the high spatial and temporal resolution of Meteosat-5 data is important for characterizing cloud variability in regions where clouds vary strongly in time and space and for the evaluation of numerical models known to have difficulties in predicting clouds correctly in this monsoon region. This study also has implications for findings on cloud variability from polar-orbiting satellites that might not correctly represent the daily average situation.

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Ning An, Kaicun Wang, Chunlüe Zhou, and Rachel T. Pinker

Abstract

The geographic and temporal variability of the surface–3600-m cloud frequency and cloud-base height over the contiguous United States for a 5-yr period (2008–12) and the interannual variations for a 16-yr period (2000–15) are described using information from the Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) observations. Clouds were separated into four categories by the cloud amount reported by ASOS: few (FEW), scattered (SCT), broken (BKN), and overcast (OVC). The geographic distributions and seasonal and diurnal cycles of the four categories of surface–3600-m cloud frequency have different patterns. Cloud frequency of FEW, SCT, and BKN peaks just after noon, whereas the frequency of OVC peaks in the early morning. However, the geographic distributions and seasonal and diurnal cycles of the four categories of the surface–3600-m cloud-base height are similar. The diurnal cycles of the cloud-base height within the surface–3600-m level present a minimum in the morning and peak in the late afternoon or early evening. Cloud frequency and cloud-base height within this range are closely related to surface air temperature and humidity conditions. From 2000 to 2015, the cloud frequency in the contiguous United States showed a positive trend of 0.28% yr−1 while the cloud-base height showed a negative trend of −4 m yr−1 for the surface–3600-m level, accompanied with a positive trend of precipitation days (0.14 days yr−1). Moreover, the increase of cloud frequency and the decrease of cloud-base height were most obvious in winter in the eastern half of the contiguous United States.

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Semyon A. Grodsky, Abderrahim Bentamy, James A. Carton, and Rachel T. Pinker

Abstract

Weekly average satellite-based estimates of latent heat flux (LHTFL) are used to characterize spatial patterns and temporal variability in the intraseasonal band (periods shorter than 3 months). As expected, the major portion of intraseasonal variability of LHTFL is due to winds, but spatial variability of humidity and SST are also important. The strongest intraseasonal variability of LHTFL is observed at the midlatitudes. It weakens toward the equator, reflecting weak variance of intraseasonal winds at low latitudes. It also decreases at high latitudes, reflecting the effect of decreased SST and the related decrease of time-mean humidity difference between heights z = 10 m and z = 0 m. Within the midlatitude belts the intraseasonal variability of LHTFL is locally stronger (up to 50 W m−2) in regions of major SST fronts (like the Gulf Stream and Agulhas). Here it is forced by passing storms and is locally amplified by unstable air over warm SSTs. Although weaker in amplitude (but still significant), intraseasonal variability of LHTFL is observed in the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans due to wind and humidity perturbations produced by the Madden–Julian oscillations. In this tropical region intraseasonal LHTFL and incoming solar radiation vary out of phase so that evaporation increases just below the convective clusters.

Over much of the interior ocean where the surface heat flux dominates the ocean mixed layer heat budget, intraseasonal SST cools in response to anomalously strong upward intraseasonal LHTFL. This response varies geographically, in part because of geographic variations of mixed layer depth and the resulting variations in thermal inertia. In contrast, in the eastern tropical Pacific and Atlantic cold tongue regions intraseasonal SST and LHTFL are positively correlated. This surprising result occurs because in these equatorial upwelling areas SST is controlled by advection rather than by surface fluxes. Here LHTFL responds to rather than drives SST.

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Rachel T. Pinker, Donglian Sun, Meng-Pai Hung, Chuan Li, and Jeffrey B. Basara

Abstract

A comprehensive evaluation of split-window and triple-window algorithms to estimate land surface temperature (LST) from Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) that were previously described by Sun and Pinker is presented. The evaluation of the split-window algorithm is done against ground observations and against independently developed algorithms. The triple-window algorithm is evaluated only for nighttime against ground observations and against the Sun and Pinker split-window (SP-SW) algorithm. The ground observations used are from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program (ARM) Central Facility, Southern Great Plains site (April 1997–March 1998); from five Surface Radiation Budget Network (SURFRAD) stations (1996–2000); and from the Oklahoma Mesonet. The independent algorithms used for comparison include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service operational method and the following split-window algorithms: that of , that of , two versions of that of , that of , two versions of that of , that of and others, the generalized split-window algorithm as described by Becker and Li and by Wan and Dozier, and the Becker and Li algorithm with water vapor correction. The evaluation against the ARM and SURFRAD observations indicates that the LST retrievals from the SP-SW algorithm are in closer agreement with the ground observations than are the other algorithms tested. When evaluated against observations from the Oklahoma Mesonet, the triple-window algorithm is found to perform better than the split-window algorithm during nighttime.

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