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On the retrieval of ice cloud particle shapes from POLDER measurements

Sun, W., N. Loeb, and P. Yang (2006), On the retrieval of ice cloud particle shapes from POLDER measurements, J. Quant. Spectrosc. Radiat. Transfer, 101, 435-447, doi:10.1016/j.jqsrt.2006.02.071.

Shapes of ice crystals can significantly affect the radiative transfer in ice clouds. The angular distribution of the polarized reflectance over ice clouds strongly depends on ice crystal shapes. Although the angular-distribution features of the total or polarized reflectance over ice clouds imply a possibility of retrieving ice cloud particle shapes by use of remote sensing data, the accuracy of the retrieval must be evaluated. In this study, a technique that applies single ice crystal habit and multidirectional polarized radiance to retrieve ice cloud particle shapes is assessed. Our sensitivity studies show that the retrieved particle shapes from this algorithm can be considered good approximations to those in actual clouds in calculation of the phase matrix elements. However, this algorithm can only work well under the following conditions: (1) the retrievable must be overcast and thick ice cloud pixels, (2) the particles in the cloud must be randomly oriented, (3) the particle shapes and size distributions used in the lookup tables must be representative, and (4) the multi-angle polarized measurements must be accurate and sufficient to identify ice cloud pixels of randomly oriented particles. In practice, these conditions will exclude most of the measured cloud pixels. Additionally, because the polarized measurements are only sensitive to the upper cloud part not deeper than an optical thickness of 4, the retrieved particle shapes with the polarized radiance may only approximate those in the upper parts of the clouds. In other words, for thicker clouds with vertical inhomogeneity in particle shapes, these retrieved particle shapes cannot represent those of whole clouds. More robust algorithm is needed in accurate retrieval of ice cloud particle shapes.

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Radiation Science Program (RSP)