Radiometric observations in the 3.9-µm region have been used by a number of investigators for the determination of cloud parameters or sea surface temperature at night. Only a few attempts have been made to perform quantitative assessments of cloud and surface properties during the daytime because of the inability to distinguish between the thermal and solar components of the satellite-sensed radiances. This paper presents a new method of separating the thermal and solar components of upwelling 3.9-µm radiances.
Two collocated satellite observations are made under conditions where the solar illumination angle changes but the thermal structure of the cloud and atmosphere, as well as the cloud microphysics change very little. These conditions can easily be met by observing the same cloud from geosynchoronous orbit over a short time interval during the morning hours. When the radiances are differenced under these constraints, the thermal components cancel, and the difference in the radiances is simply the difference in the solar component. With a few simplifying assumptions, a cloud microphysical property, specifically effective radius, can be inferred. This parameter is of particular importance to both climate modeling and global change studies. The methodology developed in this paper is applied to data from the Visible-Infrared Spin Scan Radiometer Atmospheric Sounder onboard the GOES-7 spacecraft for a period in August 1992.