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Identification of Small Ice Cloud Particles Using Passive Radiometric...

Cooper, S. J., and T. Garrett (2010), Identification of Small Ice Cloud Particles Using Passive Radiometric Observations, J. Appl. Meteor. Climat., 49, 2334-2347, doi:10.1175/2010JAMC2466.1.

There is currently significant uncertainty about the extent to which cirrus clouds are composed of ‘‘small’’ ice crystals smaller than about 20-mm effective radius. This is due in part to concerns that in situ measurements from aircraft are plagued by ice particle shattering on instrument inlets, artificially negatively biasing effective radii. Here, space-based measurements are applied to the problem. It is found that a space-based infrared split-window technique is less sensitive but more accurate than a visible-near-infrared technique for confident assessment of whether thin cirrus clouds have small effective radii, independent of a normal range of retrieval assumptions. Because of the sensitivities of the infrared split-window technique, however, this method can only accurately determine the presence of small particles for ice clouds with optical depths between roughly 0.5 and 3.0. Applied to Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data, it is found that a very conservative minimum of 15%–20% of such thin cirrus globally are composed of small ice crystals, but that the actual value could be as high as 40%, and even higher for cold clouds or those in the tropics. Retrievals are found to be in good agreement with airborne probe measurements from the Cirrus Regional Study of Tropical Anvils and Cirrus Layers–Florida-Area Cirrus Experiment (CRYSTAL-FACE) field campaign, implying that, for the cases examined, the impact of inlet shattering on measurements must have been limited.

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Radiation Science Program (RSP)