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Techniques for retrieving cloud optical properties, i.e., the optical depths and particle size distributions, using atmospheric "window" channels in the visible and near-infrared spectral regions are well established. For partially transparent thin cirrus clouds, these "window" channels receive solar radiances scattered by the surface and lower level water clouds. Accurate retrieval of optical properties of thin cirrus clouds requires proper modeling of the effects from the surface and the lower level water clouds. In this paper, we describe a new concept using two strong water vapor absorption channels near 1.38 and 1.88 μm, together with one window channel, for remote sensing of cirrus optical properties. Both the 1.38- and 1.88-μm channels are highly sensitive in detecting the upper level cirrus clouds. Both channels receive little scattered solar radiances from the surface and lower level water clouds because of the strong water vapor absorption below cirrus. The 1.88-μm channel is quite sensitive to changes in ice particle size distributions, while the 1.38-μm channel is less sensitive. These properties allow for simultaneous retrievals of optical depths and particle size distributions of cirrus clouds with minimal contaminations from the surface and lower level water clouds. Preliminary tests of this new concept are made using hyperspectral imaging data collected with the Airborne Visible Infrared Imaging Spectrometer. The addition of a channel near 1.88 μm to future multichannel meteorological satellite sensors would improve our ability in global remote sensing of cirrus optical properties.