An evaluation of CALIOP/CALIPSO’s aerosol-above-cloud (AAC) detection and...

Kacenelenbogen, M. S., J. Redemann, M. Vaughan, A. Omar, P. B. Russell, S. Burton, R. Rogers, R. Ferrare, and C. Hostetler (2014), An evaluation of CALIOP/CALIPSO’s aerosol-above-cloud (AAC) detection and retrieval capability. , J. Geophys. Res., 119, 230-244.

Assessing the accuracy of the aerosol-above-cloud (AAC) properties derived by CALIOP (the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization) is challenged by the shortage of accurate global validation measurements. We have used measurements of aerosol vertical profiles from the NASA Langley airborne High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL-1) in 86 CALIOP-coincident flights to evaluate CALIOP AAC detection, classification, and retrieval. Our study shows that CALIOP detects ~23% of the HSRL-detected AAC. According to our CALIOP-HSRL data set, the majority of AAC aerosol optical depth (AOD) values are < 0.1 at 532 nm over North America. Our analyses show that the standard CALIOP retrieval algorithm substantially underestimates the occurrence frequency of AAC when optical depths are less than ~0.02. Those aerosols with low AOD values can still have a consequent radiative forcing effect depending on the underlying cloud cover and overlying aerosol absorption properties. We find essentially no correlation between CALIOP and HSRL AAC AOD (R2 = 0.27 and N = 151). We show that the CALIOP underestimation of AAC is mostly due to tenuous aerosol layers with backscatter less than the CALIOP detection threshold. The application of an alternate CALIOP AAC retrieval method (depolarization ratio) to our data set yields very few coincident cases. We stress the need for more extensive suborbital CALIOP validation campaigns to acquire a process-level understanding of AAC implications and further evaluate CALIOP's AAC detection and retrieval capability, especially over the ocean and in different parts of the world where AAC are more frequently observed and show higher values of AOD.

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Atmospheric Composition Modeling and Analysis Program (ACMAP)
Radiation Science Program (RSP)
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