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The evaluation of CloudSat and CALIPSO ice microphysical products using ground-based cloud radar and lidar observations

Protat, A., Delanoë, J., O'Connor, E. J. and L'Ecuyer, T. S. (2010) The evaluation of CloudSat and CALIPSO ice microphysical products using ground-based cloud radar and lidar observations. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 27 (5). pp. 793-810. ISSN 1520-0426

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/2009JTECHA1397.1


In this paper, the statistical properties of tropical ice clouds (ice water content, visible extinction, effective radius, and total number concentration) derived from 3 yr of ground-based radar–lidar retrievals from the U.S. Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility in Darwin, Australia, are compared with the same properties derived using the official CloudSat microphysical retrieval methods and from a simpler statistical method using radar reflectivity and air temperature. It is shown that the two official CloudSat microphysical products (2B-CWC-RO and 2B-CWC-RVOD) are statistically virtually identical. The comparison with the ground-based radar–lidar retrievals shows that all satellite methods produce ice water contents and extinctions in a much narrower range than the ground-based method and overestimate the mean vertical profiles of microphysical parameters below 10-km height by over a factor of 2. Better agreements are obtained above 10-km height. Ways to improve these estimates are suggested in this study. Effective radii retrievals from the standard CloudSat algorithms are characterized by a large positive bias of 8–12 μm. A sensitivity test shows that in response to such a bias the cloud longwave forcing is increased from 44.6 to 46.9 W m−2 (implying an error of about 5%), whereas the negative cloud shortwave forcing is increased from −81.6 to −82.8 W m−2. Further analysis reveals that these modest effects (although not insignificant) can be much larger for optically thick clouds. The statistical method using CloudSat reflectivities and air temperature was found to produce inaccurate mean vertical profiles and probability distribution functions of effective radius. This study also shows that the retrieval of the total number concentration needs to be improved in the official CloudSat microphysical methods prior to a quantitative use for the characterization of tropical ice clouds. Finally, the statistical relationship used to produce ice water content from extinction and air temperature obtained by the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellite is evaluated for tropical ice clouds. It is suggested that the CALIPSO ice water content retrieval is robust for tropical ice clouds, but that the temperature dependence of the statistical relationship used should be slightly refined to better reproduce the radar–lidar retrievals.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:24180
Uncontrolled Keywords:Cloud retrieval, Microscale processes, Radar observations, Lidar observations, Surface observations
Publisher:American Meteorological Society

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