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The determination of cloud altitudes using GOME reflectance spectra: multilayered cloud systems

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3 Author(s)
V. V. Rozanov ; Inst. of Environ. Phys., Bremen Univ., Germany ; A. A. Kokhanovsky ; J. P. Burrows

This paper is devoted to the application of the Semi-Analytical Cloud Retrieval Algorithm (SACURA) to the cloud-top height determination using data from the Global Ozone Measurement Experiment (GOME) instrument onboard Earth Remote Sensing satellite (ERS-2). In particular, measurements of the top-of-atmosphere reflectance in the oxygen absorption A-band are used. The technique is based on the asymptotic radiative transfer theory as applied to studies of the oxygen absorption bands in reflected light. Our approach is valid for optically thick clouds with cloud optical thickness larger than approximately 5. The accuracy of the algorithm is checked against independent retrieval techniques for completely cloudy pixels. In particular, the close coincidence with data obtained from the Along Track Scanning Radiometer (ATSR-2) onboard ERS-2 is found. Some results of retrievals using these different instruments disagree (up to 2 km). This is explained by the strong horizontal inhomogeneity of clouds under investigation, which is not accounted by the SACURA or, possibly, by well-known problems of infrared techniques as applied to low-level clouds. The effective cloud geometrical thickness l is also retrieved. This parameter is defined as the geometrical thickness of a vertically homogeneous cloud, which allows for the minimization of differences between observed and calculated top-of-atmosphere reflectance spectra. For inhomogeneous clouds, the value of l differs from a real cloud geometrical thickness, but it gives us an indication of the possible existence of the multilayered cloud system in the field of view of the optical instrument.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:42 ,  Issue: 5 )