Impacts of cloud heterogeneities on cirrus optical properties retrieved from space-based thermal infrared radiometry

Abstract : This paper presents a study, based on simulations, of the impact of cirrus cloud heterogeneities on the retrieval of cloud parameters (optical thickness and effective diameter) for the Imaging Infrared Radiometer (IIR) on board CALIPSO. Cirrus clouds are generated by the stochastic model 3DCLOUD for two different cloud fields and for several averaged cloud parameters. One is obtained from a cirrus observed on the 25 May 2007 during the airborne campaign CIRCLE-2 and the other is a cirrus uncinus. The radiative transfer is simulated with the code 3DMCPOL. To assess the errors due to cloud heterogeneities, two related retrieval algorithms are used: (i) The split window technique to retrieve the ice crystal effective diameter and (ii) an algorithm similar to the IIR operational algorithm to retrieve the effective emissivity and the effective optical thickness. Differences between input parameters and retrieved parameters are compared as a function of different cloud properties such as the mean optical thickness, the heterogeneity parameter and the effective diameter. The optical thickness heterogeneity for each 1 km × 1 km observation pixel is represented by the optical thickness standard deviation computed using 100 m × 100 m subpixels. We show that optical thickness heterogeneity may have a strong impact on the retrieved parameters, mainly due to the Plane Parallel Approximation (PPA). In particular, for cirrus cloud with ice crystal size of approximately 10 μm, the averaged error on the retrieved effective diameter is about 2.5 μm (~ 25%) and on the effective optical thickness of about −0.20 (~ 12%). Then, these biases decrease with the increase of the ice effective size due to a decrease of the cloud absorption and thus of the PPA bias. Cloud heterogeneity effects are much more higher than other possible sources of error. They become larger than the retrieval incertitude of the IIR algorithm from a standard deviation of the optical thickness, inside the observation pixel, superior to 1.
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T. Fauchez, P. Dubuisson, C. Cornet, Frédéric Szczap, Anne Garnier, et al.. Impacts of cloud heterogeneities on cirrus optical properties retrieved from space-based thermal infrared radiometry. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, European Geosciences Union, 2015, 8, pp.633-647. ⟨10.5194/amt-8-633-2015⟩. ⟨hal-01059422⟩

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