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Assessment of CloudSat reflectivity measurements and ice cloud properties using ground-based and airborne cloud radar observations

Protat, A., Bouniol, D., Delanoe, J., May, P. T., Plana-Fattori, A., Hasson, A., O'Connor, E. J., Goersdorf, U. and Heymsfield, A. J. (2009) Assessment of CloudSat reflectivity measurements and ice cloud properties using ground-based and airborne cloud radar observations. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 26. pp. 1717-1741. ISSN 1520-0426

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/2009JTECHA1246.1


A quantitative assessment of Cloudsat reflectivities and basic ice cloud properties (cloud base, top, and thickness) is conducted in the present study from both airborne and ground-based observations. Airborne observations allow direct comparisons on a limited number of ocean backscatter and cloud samples, whereas the ground-based observations allow statistical comparisons on much longer time series but with some additional assumptions. Direct comparisons of the ocean backscatter and ice cloud reflectivities measured by an airborne cloud radar and Cloudsat during two field experiments indicate that, on average, Cloudsat measures ocean backscatter 0.4 dB higher and ice cloud reflectivities 1 dB higher than the airborne cloud radar. Five ground-based sites have also been used for a statistical evaluation of the Cloudsat reflectivities and basic cloud properties. From these comparisons, it is found that the weighted-mean difference ZCloudsat − ZGround ranges from −0.4 to +0.3 dB when a ±1-h time lag around the Cloudsat overpass is considered. Given the fact that the airborne and ground-based radar calibration accuracy is about 1 dB, it is concluded that the reflectivities of the spaceborne, airborne, and ground-based radars agree within the expected calibration uncertainties of the airborne and ground-based radars. This result shows that the Cloudsat radar does achieve the claimed sensitivity of around −29 dBZ. Finally, an evaluation of the tropical “convective ice” profiles measured by Cloudsat has been carried out over the tropical site in Darwin, Australia. It is shown that these profiles can be used statistically down to approximately 9-km height (or 4 km above the melting layer) without attenuation and multiple scattering corrections over Darwin. It is difficult to estimate if this result is applicable to all types of deep convective storms in the tropics. However, this first study suggests that the Cloudsat profiles in convective ice need to be corrected for attenuation by supercooled liquid water and ice aggregates/graupel particles and multiple scattering prior to their quantitative use.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:24179
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ice crystals, Clouds, Radar observations, In situ observations, Radiation budgets
Publisher:American Meteorological Society

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