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Wolf, Kevin; Ehrlich, André; Hüneke, Tilman; Pfeilsticker, Klaus; Werner, Frank; Wirth, Martin; Wendisch, Manfred (2016)
Languages: English
Types: Article
Spectral radiance measurements from two airborne passive solar remote sensing instruments, the Spectral Modular Airborne Radiation measurement sysTem (SMART) and the Differential Optical Absorption Spectrometer (mini-DOAS), are used to compare the remote sensing of cirrus optical thickness τ in nadir and off-nadir geometry. The comparison is based on a sensitivity study using radiative transfer simulations and on measurements during the North Atlantic Rainfall VALidation (NARVAL) mission, the Mid-Latitude Cirrus Experiment (ML-CIRRUS) and the Aerosol, Cloud, Precipitation, and Radiation Interactions and Dynamics of Convective Cloud Systems (ACRIDICON) campaign. Radiative transfer simulations are used to quantify the sensitivity of measured upward radiance I with respect to cirrus optical thickness τ, effective radius τeff, viewing angle of the sensor σL, surface albedo α and ice crystal shape. From the calculations it is concluded that off-nadir measurements at wavelengths larger than λ = 900 nm significantly improve the ability to measure clouds of low optical thickness.

The comparison of nadir and off-nadir retrievals of τ from mini-DOAS, SMART and independent estimates by the Water Vapour Lidar Experiment in Space (WALES) show general agreement within the range of measurement uncertainties. For the selected example case a mean optical thickness of 0.54±0.2 is derived by SMART and 0.49±0.2 by mini-DOAS nadir channels, while WALES obtained a mean value of 0.32 at 532 nm wavelength respectively. The mean of τ derived from the scanning mini-DOAS channels is 0.26. For the few simultaneous measurements, the scanning mini-DOAS measurements systematically underestimate (−17.6 %) the nadir observations from SMART and mini-DOAS, most likely due to the different probed scenes. The different values of τ derived by SMART, mini-DOAS and WALES can be potentially linked to spatial averages, ice crystal shape and the measurement strategies. The agreement of the simulations and retrievals indicate that off-nadir measurements are generally suited better to retrieve τ of thin clouds.

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