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The global distribution of cloud gaps in CALIPSO data

Kiemle, C., G. Ehret, S. R. Kawa, and E. Browell (2015), The global distribution of cloud gaps in CALIPSO data, J. Quant. Spectrosc. Radiat. Transfer, 153, 95-101, doi:10.1016/j.jqsrt.2014.12.001.

Future space-borne lidar missions are foreseen to measure global concentrations of methane, carbon dioxide and aerosols with high sensitivity and to relate the concentrations to their surface sources and sinks. Therefore, full visibility down to the surface is required. We use Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) level-2 total atmosphere cloud optical depths for the full year 2007 to assess the global and seasonal variability of such cloud-free regions with high accuracy and spatial resolution (5 km), both to contribute to an improved scientific understanding of their distribution and to identify clear regions where the above missions are expected to significantly add to the current global observation system. The global length distribution of cloudy and of cloud-free regions is strongly skewed towards a high probability of occurrence of small lengths and roughly follows a power law with exponent -5/3 up to scales of about 1000 km. Belts with extended cloud-free regions span along the subtropics, seasonally interrupted by monsoon systems. In winter large parts of the Arctic are less cloudy than in summer. Over regions with intense anthropogenic or biogenic aerosol and greenhouse gas emissions, low cloud cover is found in India and Northeast China in winter and in Amazonia, the USA, and Central Asia in summer. Here, favorable conditions for key contributions by the next generation of remote sensing missions are encountered.

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Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems Program (CCEP)