ISSN 2070-7401 (Print), ISSN 2411-0280 (Online)
Sovremennye problemy distantsionnogo zondirovaniya Zemli iz kosmosa


Sovremennye problemy distantsionnogo zondirovaniya Zemli iz kosmosa, 2018, Vol. 15, No. 4, pp. 265-279

Retrieval of cloud microphysical properties from satellite observations

E.V. Volkova 1 
1 State Research Center of Space Hydrometeorology “Planeta”, Moscow, Russia
Accepted: 30.07.2018
DOI: 10.21046/2070-7401-2018-15-4-265-279
Information on microphysical state of cloud cover (cloud water content, total cloud water content, cloud water phase, cloud optical depth, cloud optical thickness, effective cloud droplet size, etc.) is very important for modeling and investigation of climatic and weather changes as cloud optical and physical properties greatly influence the Earth’s radiation budget and climate. Accurate estimation of cloud microphysical properties (CMPP) is an absolute necessity in any climate model. By now, a lot of various algorithms and retrieval techniques for computing CMPP have been developed. Most of them utilize satellite radiances at wavelengths in the non-absorbing visible and the moderately absorbing solar infrared parts of the spectrum. Since backscattered solar radiation is used, the algorithms are only applicable during daylight and over snowless territories. Moreover, the accuracy of estimations strongly depends on the uncertainties produced by various assumptions about the atmosphere and the cloud embedded in it, for example, the assumption of plane-parallel and homogeneous cloud layers. Three versions of the multispectral threshold technique (MTT) were proposed and developed by the author at “Planeta” for automatic classification of satellite data from polar-orbiting (AVHRR/NOAA, MSU MR/“Meteor-M” No. 2) and geostationary (SEVIRI/Meteosat-8, -9, -10) imagers for the purpose of deriving CMPP (among other cloud cover parameters) day-and-night all year round above any ground surface. The MTT employs brightness temperature and daytime albedo along with the cloud cover parameters retrieved at the previous steps of the technique. The MTT was tested for AVHRR and MSU-MR data over the European territory of Russia and neighboring countries, and for SEVIRI data over the whole field of the imager’s view. The validation showed a good agreement of MTT results with synoptic situations and the climatic information (concerning certain cloud types). The output products were also indirectly compared with ground-based conventional meteorological observations. The results of the validation proved MTT quite competitive with retrieval techniques implemented in foreign satellite centers and meeting user demands for the accuracy of CMPP. The paper presents a review and qualitative comparison of various approaches to CMPP retrieval from satellite data.
Keywords: AVHRR/NOAA, MSU-MR/Meteor, SEVIRI/Meteosat, cloud water content, total cloud water content, cloud water phase, cloud optical depth, cloud optical thickness, effective cloud droplet size
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