Very high cloud detection in more than two decades of HIRS data

The core information for this publication's citation.: 
Kolat, U., P. Menzel, E. Olson, and R. A. Frey (2013), Very high cloud detection in more than two decades of HIRS data, J. Geophys. Res., 118, 3278-3284, doi:10.1029/2012JD018496.

This paper reports on the use of High-resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder (HIRS) measurements to infer the presence of upper tropospheric and lower stratospheric (UT/LS) clouds. UT/LS cloud detection is based on the fact that, when viewing an opaque UT/LS cloud that fills the sensor field of view, positive lapse rates above the tropopause cause a more absorbing CO2 or H2O-sensitive spectral band to measure a brightness temperature warmer than that of a less absorbing or nearly transparent infrared window spectral band. The HIRS sensor has flown on 16 polar-orbiting satellites from TIROS-N through NOAA19 and Metop-A and –B, forming the only 30 year record that includes H2O and CO2sensitive spectral bands enabling the detection of these UT/LS clouds. Comparison with collocated Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization data reveals that 97% of the HIRS UT/LS cloud determinations are within 2.5 km of the tropopause (defined as the coldest level in the National Centers for Environmental Prediction Global Data Assimilation System); more clouds are found above the tropopause than below. From NOAA-14 data spanning 1995 through 2005, we find indications of UT/LS clouds in 0.7% of the observations from 60N to 60S using CO2 absorption bands; however, in the region of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), this increases to 1.7%. During El Niño years, UT/LS clouds shift eastward out of their normal location in the western Pacific region. Monthly trends from 1987 through 2011 using data from NOAA-10 onwards show decreases in UT/LS cloud detection in the region of the ITCZ from 1987 until 1996, increases until 2001, and decreases thereafter.

PDF of Publication: 
Download from publisher's website.
Research Program: 
Radiation Science Program (RSP)