The Potential for Improved Boundary Layer Cloud Optical Depth Retrievals from...

Evans, K. F., A. Marshak, and T. Várnai (2008), The Potential for Improved Boundary Layer Cloud Optical Depth Retrievals from the Multiple Directions of MISR, J. Atmos. Sci., 65, 3179-3196, doi:10.1175/2008JAS2627.1.

The Multiangle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR) views the earth with nine cameras, ranging from a 70° zenith angle viewing forward through nadir to 70° viewing aft. MISR does not have an operational cloud optical depth retrieval algorithm, but previous research has hinted that solar reflection measured in multiple directions might improve cloud optical depth retrievals. This study explores the optical depth information content of MISR’s multiple angles using a retrieval simulation approach. Hundreds of realistic boundarylayer cloud fields are generated with large-eddy simulation (LES) models for stratocumulus, small trade cumulus, and land surface–forced fair-weather cumulus. Reflectances in MISR directions are computed with three-dimensional radiative transfer from the LES cloud fields over an ocean surface and averaged to MISR resolution and sampled at MISR 275-m pixel spacing. Neural networks are trained to retrieve the mean and standard deviation of optical depth over different size pixel patches from the mean and standard deviation of simulated MISR reflectances. Various configurations of MISR cameras are input to the retrieval, and the rms retrieval errors are compared. For 5 ϫ 5 pixel patches the already low mean optical depth retrieval error for stratocumulus decreases 41% and 23% (for 25° and 45° solar zenith angles, respectively) from using only the nadir camera to using seven MISR cameras. For cumulus, however, the much higher normalized optical depth retrieval error only decreases around 14%. These small improvements suggest that measurements of solar reflection in multiple directions do not contribute substantially to more accurate optical depth retrievals for small cumulus clouds. The 3D statistical retrievals, however, even with only the nadir camera, are much more accurate for small cumulus than standard nadir plane-parallel retrievals; therefore, this approach may be worth pursuing.

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Radiation Science Program (RSP)