Global Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) cloud detection...

Holz, R. E., S. Ackerman, F. W. Nagle, R. A. Frey, S. Dutcher, R. E. Kuehn, M. Vaughan, and B. A. Baum (2008), Global Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) cloud detection and height evaluation using CALIOP, J. Geophys. Res., 113, D00A19, doi:10.1029/2008JD009837.

A global 2-month comparison is presented between the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) for both cloud detection and cloud top height (CTH) retrievals. Both CALIOP and MODIS are part of the NASA A-Train constellation of satellites and provide continuous near-coincident measurements that result in over 28 million cloud detection comparisons and over 5 million CTH comparisons for the months of August 2006 and February 2007. To facilitate the comparison, a computationally efficient and accurate collocation methodology is developed. With the collocated MODIS and CALIOP retrievals, nearly instantaneous comparisons are compiled regionally and globally. Globally, it is found that the MODIS 1-km cloud mask and the CALIOP 1-km averaged layer product agreement is 87% for cloudy conditions for both August 2006 and February 2007. For clear-sky conditions the agreement is 85% (86%) for August (February). The best agreement is found for nonpolar daytime and the poorest agreement in the polar regions. Differences in cloud top heights depend strongly on cloud type. Globally, MODIS underestimates the CTH relative to CALIOP by 1.4 ± 2.9 km for both August 2006 and February 2007. This value of 1.4 km is obtained using the CALIOP 1 km layer products. When compared to the CALIOP 5-km products, the differences increase to -2.6 ± 3.9 km as a result of CALIOP’s increased sensitivity to optically thin cirrus. When only high clouds above 5 km are considered, the differences are found to be greater than 4 km with individual comparisons having differences larger than 10 km. These large differences (>10 km) represent approximately 16% of the nonpolar high cloud retrievals (>5 km). For high clouds it is found that MODIS retrieves a cloud top height for 90% of the clouds detected by the CALIOP 5-km layer products. The large MODIS underestimates for optically thin cirrus occur for cases when MODIS reverts to a window brightness temperature retrieval instead of CO2 slicing. A systematic bias is found for marine low-level stratus clouds, with MODIS overestimating the CTH by over 1 km in dense marine stratocumulus regions. The cause of the bias was identified in the MODIS Collection 5 algorithm; an application of a modified algorithm reduced this bias.

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Radiation Science Program (RSP)