2.4 Using High-resolution Airborne Remote Sensing to Quantify Aerosol near Clouds

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 9:15 AM
Room 357 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Robert Levy, NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, MD; and L. Munchak and S. Mattoo

The horizontal space in between clear and cloudy air is very complex. This so-called twilight zone includes activated aerosols that are not quite clouds, thin cloud fragments that are not easily observable, and dying clouds that have not quite disappeared. This is a huge challenge for satellite remote sensing, specifically for retrieval of aerosol properties. Identifying what is “cloud” versus what is “not cloud” is critically important for attributing radiative effects and forcings to aerosols. At the same time, the radiative interactions between clouds and the surrounding media (molecules, surface and aerosols themselves) will contaminate retrieval of aerosol properties, even in clear skies. Most studies on aerosol/cloud interactions are relevant to “moderate” resolution imagery (e.g. ~500 m) from sensors such as MODIS. Since standard aerosol retrieval algorithms tend to keep a distance (e.g. 1 km) from the nearest detected cloud, it is impossible to evaluate what happens closer to the cloud. During Studies of Emissions, Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC4RS), the NASA ER-2 flew with the enhanced MODIS Airborne Simulator (eMAS), providing MODIS-like spectral observations at “high” (~50 m) spatial resolution. We have applied MODIS-like aerosol retrieval for the eMAS data, providing new detail to characterization of aerosol near clouds. Interpretation and evaluation of these eMAS aerosol retrievals is aided by independent MODIS-like cloud retrievals, as well as profiles from the co-flying Cloud Physics Lidar (CPL). Understanding aerosol/cloud retrieval at high resolution will lead to better characterization and interpretation of long-term, global products from lower resolution (e.g. MODIS) satellite retrievals.
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