Toward cloud tomography from space using MISR and MODIS: Locating the "veiled...

Forster, L., A. B. Davis, D. Diner, and B. Mayer (2021), Toward cloud tomography from space using MISR and MODIS: Locating the "veiled core" in opaque convective clouds, J. Atmos. Sci., 78, 155-166, doi:10.1175/JAS-D-19-0262.1.

For passive satellite imagers, current retrievals of cloud optical thickness and effective particle size fail for convective clouds with 3D morphology. Indeed, being based on 1D radiative transfer (RT) theory, they work well only for horizontally homogeneous clouds. A promising approach for treating clouds as fully 3D objects is cloud tomography, which has been demonstrated for airborne observations. However, more efficient forward 3D RT solvers are required for cloud tomography from space. Here, we present a path forward by acknowledging that optically thick clouds have ‘‘veiled cores’’ (VCs). Sunlight scattered into and out of this deep region does not contribute significant information about the inner structure of the cloud to the spatially detailed imagery. We investigate the VC location for the MISR and MODIS imagers. While MISR provides multiangle imagery in the visible and near-infrared (IR), MODIS includes channels in the shortwave IR, albeit at a single view angle. This combination will enable future 3D retrievals to disentangle the cloud’s effective particle size and extinction fields. We find that, in practice, the VC is located at an optical distance of ~5, starting from the cloud boundary along the line of sight. For MODIS’s absorbing wavelengths the VC covers a larger volume, starting at smaller optical distances. This concept will not only lead to a reduction in the number of unknowns for the tomographic reconstruction but also significantly increase the speed and efficiency of the 3D RT solver at the heart of the algorithm by applying, say, the photon diffusion approximation inside the VC.

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Radiation Science Program (RSP)
Terra- MISR
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