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NOTES AND CORRESPONDENCE CloudSat as a Global Radar Calibrator

Protat, A., D. Bouniol, E. J. O’Connor, H. K. Baltink, J. Verlinde, and K. Widener (2011), NOTES AND CORRESPONDENCE CloudSat as a Global Radar Calibrator, J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol., 28, 445-452, doi:10.1175/2010JTECHA1443.1.

The calibration of the CloudSat spaceborne cloud radar has been thoroughly assessed using very accurate internal link budgets before launch, comparisons with predicted ocean surface backscatter at 94 GHz, direct comparisons with airborne cloud radars, and statistical comparisons with ground-based cloud radars at different locations of the world. It is believed that the calibration of CloudSat is accurate to within 0.5–1 dB. In the present paper it is shown that an approach similar to that used for the statistical comparisons with groundbased radars can now be adopted the other way around to calibrate other ground-based or airborne radars against CloudSat and/or to detect anomalies in long time series of ground-based radar measurements, provided that the calibration of CloudSat is followed up closely (which is the case). The power of using CloudSat as a global radar calibrator is demonstrated using the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement cloud radar data taken at Barrow, Alaska, the cloud radar data from the Cabauw site, Netherlands, and airborne Doppler cloud radar measurements taken along the CloudSat track in the Arctic by the Radar System Airborne (RASTA) cloud radar installed in the French ATR-42 aircraft for the first time. It is found that the Barrow radar data in 2008 are calibrated too high by 9.8 dB, while the Cabauw radar data in 2008 are calibrated too low by 8.0 dB. The calibration of the RASTA airborne cloud radar using direct comparisons with CloudSat agrees well with the expected gains and losses resulting from the change in configuration that required verification of the RASTA calibration.

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