Simultaneously inferring above-cloud absorbing aerosol optical thickness and...

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Meyer, K., S. Platnick, and Z. Zhang (2015), Simultaneously inferring above-cloud absorbing aerosol optical thickness and underlying liquid phase cloud optical and microphysical properties using MODIS, J. Geophys. Res., 120, 5524-5547, doi:10.1002/2015JD023128.
Abstract: 

The regional haze over the southeast (SE) Atlantic Ocean induced by biomass burning in southern Africa can be problematic for passive imager-based retrievals of the underlying quasi-permanent marine boundary layer (MBL) clouds and for estimates of top-of-atmosphere (TOA) aerosol direct radiative effect (DRE). Here an algorithm is introduced to simultaneously retrieve above-cloud aerosol optical thickness (AOT), the cloud optical thickness (COT), and cloud effective particle radius (CER) of the underlying MBL clouds while also providing pixel-level estimates of retrieval uncertainty. This approach utilizes reflectance measurements at six Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) channels from the visible to the shortwave infrared. Retrievals are run under two aerosol model assumptions on 8 years (2006–2013) of June–October Aqua MODIS data over the SE Atlantic, from which a regional cloud and above-cloud aerosol climatology is produced. The cloud retrieval methodology is shown to yield COT and CER consistent with those from the MODIS operational cloud product (MOD06) when forcing AOT to zero, while the full COT-CER-AOT retrievals that account for the above-cloud aerosol attenuation increase regional monthly mean COT and CER by up to 9% and 2%, respectively. Retrieved AOT is roughly 3 to 5 times larger than the collocated 532 nm Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) retrievals, though closer agreement is observed with the CALIOP 1064 nm retrievals, a result consistent with previous case study analyses. Regional cloudy-sky above-cloud aerosol DRE calculations are also performed that illustrate the importance of the aerosol model assumption and underlying cloud retrievals.

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Research Program: 
Radiation Science Program (RSP)
Mission: 
ORACLES Background