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A review of cloud top height and optical depth histograms from MISR, ISCCP, and MODIS

Summary: A review of cloud top height and optical depth histograms
Roger Marchand,1
Thomas Ackerman,1
Mike Smyth,2
and William B. Rossow3
Received 21 October 2009; revised 23 March 2010; accepted 12 April 2010; published 24 August 2010.
[1] There are notable differences in the joint histograms of cloud top height and optical
depth being produced from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)
and the Multiangle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) and by the International Satellite
Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP). These differences have their roots in the different
retrieval approaches used by the three projects and are driven largely by responses of the
retrievals to (1) stratocumulus (or more broadly lowlevel clouds under temperature
inversions), (2) small (subpixel) or broken lowlevel clouds, and (3) multilayer clouds.
Because each data set has different strengths and weakness, the combination tells us more
about the observed cloud fields than any of the three by itself. In particular, the MISR
stereo height retrieval provides a calibration insensitive approach to determining cloud
height that is especially valuable in combination with ISCCP or MODIS because the
combination provides a means to estimate the amount of multilayer cloud, where the upper
cloud is optically thin. In this article we present a review of the three data sets using case


Source: Ackerman, Thomas P. - Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington at Seattle


Collections: Geosciences; Environmental Sciences and Ecology