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Potential nighttime contamination of CERES clear-sky fields of view by...

Lee, Y., P. Yang, Y. Hu, B. A. Baum, N. Loeb, and B. Gao (2006), Potential nighttime contamination of CERES clear-sky fields of view by optically thin cirrus during the CRYSTAL-FACE campaign, J. Geophys. Res., 111, D09203, doi:10.1029/2005JD006372.

We investigate the outgoing broadband longwave (LW, 5~200 mm) and window (WIN, 8~12 mm) channel radiances at the top of atmosphere (TOA) under clear-sky conditions, using data acquired by the Cloud and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) and Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on board the NASA Terra satellite platform. In this study, detailed analyses are performed on the CERES Single Scanner Footprint TOA/Surface Fluxes and Clouds product to understand the radiative effect of thin cirrus. The data are acquired over the Florida area during the Cirrus Regional Study of Tropical Anvils and Cirrus Layers – Florida Area Cirrus Experiment (CRYSTAL-FACE) field program. Of particular interest is the anisotropy associated with the radiation field. Measured CERES broadband radiances are compared to those obtained from rigorous radiative transfer simulations. Analysis of results from this comparison indicates that the simulated radiances tend to be larger than their measured counterparts, with differences ranging from 2.1% to 8.3% for the LW band and from 1.7% to 10.6% for the WIN band. The averaged difference in radiance is approximately 4% for both the LW and WIN channels. A potential cause for the differences could be the presence of thin cirrus (i.e., optically thin ice clouds with visible optical thicknesses smaller than approximately 0.3). The detection and quantitative analysis of these thin cirrus clouds are challenging even with sophisticated multispectral instruments. While large differences in radiance between the CERES observations and the theoretical calculations are found, the corresponding difference in the anisotropic factors is very small (0.2%). Furthermore, sensitivity studies show that the influence due to a ±1 K bias of the surface temperature on the errors of the LW and WIN channel radiances is of the same order as that associated with a ±2% bias of the surface emissivity. The LW and WIN errors associated with a ±5% bias of water vapor amount in the lower atmosphere in conjunction with a ±50% bias of water vapor amount in the upper atmosphere is similar to that of a ±1 K bias of the vertical temperature profile. Even with the uncertainties considered for these various factors, the simulated LW and WIN radiances are still larger than the observed radiances if thin cirrus clouds are excluded.

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Radiation Science Program (RSP)