The MODIS cloud products: Algorithms and examples From Terra

Platnick, S., M. D. King, S. Ackerman, P. Menzel, B. A. Baum, J. C. Riedi, and R. A. Frey (2003), The MODIS cloud products: Algorithms and examples From Terra, IEEE Trans. Geosci. Remote Sens., 41, 459-473, doi:10.1109/TGRS.2002.808301.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) is one of five instruments aboard the Terra Earth Observing System (EOS) platform launched in December 1999. After achieving final orbit, MODIS began earth observations in late February 2000 and has been acquiring data since that time. The instrument is also being flown on the Aqua spacecraft, launched in May 2002. A comprehensive set of remote sensing algorithms for cloud detection and the retrieval of cloud physical and optical properties have been developed by members of the MODIS atmosphere science team. The archived products from these algorithms have applications in climate change studies, climate modeling, numerical weather prediction, as well as fundamental atmospheric research. In addition to an extensive cloud mask, products include cloud-top properties (temperature, pressure, effective emissivity), cloud thermodynamic phase, cloud optical and microphysical parameters (optical thickness, effective particle radius, water path), as well as derived statistics. We will describe the various algorithms being used for the remote sensing of cloud properties from MODIS data with an emphasis on the pixel-level retrievals (referred to as Level-2 products), with 1-km or 5-km spatial resolution at nadir. An example of each Level-2 cloud product from a common data granule (5 min of data) off the coast of South America will be discussed. Future efforts will also be mentioned. Relevant points related to the global gridded statistics products (Level-3) are highlighted though additional details are given in an accompanying paper in this issue.

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Radiation Science Program (RSP)