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Cloud top heights and aerosol columnar properties from combined EarthCARE lidar and imager observations: the AM-CTH and AM-ACD products

Haarig, M., H√ľnerbein, A., Wandinger, U., Docter, N., Bley, S., Donovan, D., and van Zadelhoff, G.-J

The Earth Cloud, Aerosol and Radiation Explorer (EarthCARE) is a combination of multiple active and passive instruments on a single platform. The Atmospheric Lidar (ATLID) provides vertical information of clouds and aerosol particles along the satellite track. In addition, the Multi-Spectral Imager (MSI) collects multi-spectral information from the visible to the infrared wavelengths over a swath width of 150 km across the track. The ATLID–MSI Column Products processor (AM-COL) described in this paper combines the high vertical resolution of the lidar along track and the horizontal resolution of the imager across track to better characterize a three-dimensional scene. ATLID Level 2a (L2a) data from the ATLID Layer Products processor (A-LAY), MSI L2a data from the MSI Cloud Products processor (M-CLD) and the MSI Aerosol Optical Thickness processor (M-AOT), and MSI Level 1c (L1c) data are used as input to produce the synergistic columnar products: the ATLID–MSI Cloud Top Height (AM-CTH) and the ATLID–MSI Aerosol Column Descriptor (AM-ACD). The coupling of ATLID (measuring at 355 nm) and MSI (at ≥670 nm) provides multi-spectral observations of the aerosol properties. In particular, the Ångström exponent from the spectral aerosol optical thickness (AOT 355/670 nm) adds valuable information for aerosol typing. The AOT across track, the Ångström exponent and the dominant aerosol type are stored in the AM-ACD product. The accurate detection of the cloud top height (CTH) with lidar is limited to the ATLID track. The difference in the CTH detected by ATLID and retrieved by MSI is calculated along track. The similarity of MSI pixels across track with those along track is used to transfer the calculated CTH difference to the entire MSI swath. In this way, the accuracy of the CTH is increased to achieve the EarthCARE mission's goal of deriving the radiative flux at the top of the atmosphere with an accuracy of 10 W m−2 for a 100 km2 snapshot view of the atmosphere. The synergistic CTH difference is stored in the AM-CTH product. The quality status is provided with the products. It depends, e.g., on day/night conditions and the presence of multiple cloud layers. The algorithm was successfully tested using the common EarthCARE test scenes. Two definitions of the CTH from the model truth cloud extinction fields are compared: an extinction-based threshold of 20 Mm−1 provides the geometric CTH, and a cloud optical thickness threshold of 0.25 describes the radiative CTH. The first CTH definition was detected with ATLID and the second one with MSI. The geometric CTH is always higher than or equal to the radiative CTH.

Bibliografische gegevens

Haarig, M., H√ľnerbein, A., Wandinger, U., Docter, N., Bley, S., Donovan, D., and van Zadelhoff, G.-J. Cloud top heights and aerosol columnar properties from combined EarthCARE lidar and imager observations: the AM-CTH and AM-ACD products
Journal: Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, Volume: 16, Year: 2023, doi: https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-16-5953-2023

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