Cloud optical depth retrievals from solar background "signals" of micropulse lidars
Chiu, C., Marshak, A., Wiscombe, W., Valencia, S. and Welton, E.J. (2007) Cloud optical depth retrievals from solar background "signals" of micropulse lidars. IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters, 4 (3). pp. 456-460. ISSN 1545-598X
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1109/LGRS.2007.896722
Pulsed lidars are commonly used to retrieve vertical distributions of cloud and aerosol layers. It is widely believed that lidar cloud retrievals (other than cloud base altitude) are limited to optically thin clouds. Here, we demonstrate that lidars can retrieve optical depths of thick clouds using solar background light as a signal, rather than (as now) merely a noise to be subtracted. Validations against other instruments show that retrieved cloud optical depths agree within 10%–15% for overcast stratus and broken clouds. In fact, for broken cloud situations, one can retrieve not only the aerosol properties in clear-sky periods using lidar signals, but also the optical depth of thick clouds in cloudy periods using solar background signals. This indicates that, in general, it may be possible to retrieve both aerosol and cloud properties using a single lidar. Thus, lidar observations have great untapped potential to study interactions between clouds and aerosols.