Satellite-based remote sensing of cirrus clouds: hyperspectral radiative transfer modeling, analysis of uncertainties in in-situ cloud extinction measurements and intercomparison of cirrus retrievals from a-train instruments
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This dissertation consists of three parts, each devoted to a particular issue of significant importance for satellite-based remote sensing of cirrus clouds. In the first part, we develop and present a fast infrared radiative transfer model on the basis of the adding-doubling principle. The model aims to facilitate the radiative transfer computations involved in hyperspectral remote sensing applications. The model is applicable to a variety of cloud conditions, including vertically inhomogeneous or multilayered clouds. It is shown that for hyperspectral applications the model is two order-of-magnitude faster than the well-known discrete ordinate transfer (DISORT) model, while maintains a similar accuracy. The second part is devoted to the investigation of uncertainties in the FSSP (Forward Scattering Spectrometer Probe) measurement of cloud extinction by small ice particles. First, the single-scattering properties of small ice particles in cirrus clouds are derived and compared to those of equivalent spheres according to various definitions. It is found that, although small ice particles in cirrus clouds are often “quasi-spherical”, their scattering phase functions and asymmetry factors are significant different from those of ice spheres. Such differences may lead to substantial underestimation of cloud extinction in FSSP measurement, if small ice particles are assumed to be spheres. In the third part, we present a comparison of cirrus cloud optical thickness retrievals from two important instruments, MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer) and POLDER (Polarization and Directionality of Earth’s Reflection), on board NASA’s A-train satellite constellation. The comparison reveals a large difference. Several possible reasons are discussed. It is found that much of the difference is attributable to the difference between the MODIS and POLDER retrieval algorithm in the assumption of cirrus cloud bulk scattering properties. Potential implications of the difference for climate studies are investigated. An important finding is that the use of an unrealistic cirrus bulk scattering model might introduce artificial seasonal variation of cirrus optical thickness and shortwave radiative forcing into the retrieval.
Zhang, Zhibo (2008). Satellite-based remote sensing of cirrus clouds: hyperspectral radiative transfer modeling, analysis of uncertainties in in-situ cloud extinction measurements and intercomparison of cirrus retrievals from a-train instruments. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from