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Estimating the top altitude of optically thick ice clouds from thermal infrared...

Minnis, P., C. Yost, S. Sun-Mack, and Y. Chen (2008), Estimating the top altitude of optically thick ice clouds from thermal infrared satellite observations using CALIPSO data, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L12801, doi:10.1029/2008GL033947.

The difference between cloud-top altitude Ztop and infrared effective radiating height Zeff for optically thick ice clouds is examined using April 2007 data taken by the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) and the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). For even days, the difference DZ between CALIPSO Ztop and MODIS Zeff is 1.58 ± 1.26 km. The linear fit between Ztop and Zeff , applied to odd-day data, yields a difference of 0.03 ± 1.21 km and can be used to estimate Ztop from any infrared-based Zeff for thick ice clouds. Random errors appear to be due primarily to variations in cloud ice-water content (IWC). Radiative transfer calculations show that DZ corresponds to an optical depth of ~1, which based on observed ice-particle sizes yields an average cloud-top IWC of ~0.015 gm-3, a value consistent with in situ measurements. The analysis indicates potential for deriving cloud-top IWC using dual-satellite data.

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Radiation Science Program (RSP)