Investigation of Thin Cirrus Cloud Optical and Microphysical Properties on the Basis of Satellite Observations and Fast Radiative Transfer Models
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This dissertation focuses on the global investigation of optically thin cirrus cloud optical thickness (tau) and microphysical properties, such as, effective particle size (D_(eff)) and ice crystal habits (shapes), based on the global satellite observations and fast radiative transfer models (RTMs). In the first part, we develop two computationally efficient RTMs simulating satellite observations under cloudy-sky conditions in the visible/shortwave infrared (VIS/SWIR) and thermal inferred (IR) spectral regions, respectively. To mitigate the computational burden associated with absorption, thermal emission and multiple scattering, we generate pre-computed lookup tables (LUTs) using two rigorous models, i.e., the line-by-line radiative transfer model (LBLRTM) and the discrete ordinates radiative transfer model (DISORT). The second part introduces two methods (i.e., VIS/SWIR- and IR-based methods) to retrieve tau and D_(eff) from satellite observations in corresponding spectral regions of the two RTMs. We discuss the advantages and weakness of the two methods by estimating the impacts from different error sources on the retrievals through sensitivity studies. Finally, we develop a new method to infer the scattering phase functions of optically thin cirrus clouds in a water vapor absorption channel (1.38-µm). We estimate the ice crystal habits and surface structures by comparing the inferred scattering phase functions and numerically simulated phase functions calculated using idealized habits. We find two critical features of the two retrieval methods: (1) the IR-based method is more sensitive to optically thin cirrus cloud, and (2) the VIS/SWIR-based method is more sensitive to the pre-assumed ice cloud microphysical parameterization schemes. We derive the optically thin cirrus cloud phase functions based on the two methods. We find that small column-like particles (e.g., solid columns and columnaggregates) and droxtals with rough surfaces are likely to reside in optically thin cirrus clouds.
SubjectRadiative transfer model
Cloud optical and microphysical properties
Optically thin cirrus cloud
Cloud phase function
Wang, Chenxi (2013). Investigation of Thin Cirrus Cloud Optical and Microphysical Properties on the Basis of Satellite Observations and Fast Radiative Transfer Models. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from
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