Articles | Volume 11, issue 1
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 611–632, 2018
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 611–632, 2018

Research article 01 Feb 2018

Research article | 01 Feb 2018

Retrieval of an ice water path over the ocean from ISMAR and MARSS millimeter and submillimeter brightness temperatures

Manfred Brath1, Stuart Fox2, Patrick Eriksson3, R. Chawn Harlow2, Martin Burgdorf1, and Stefan A. Buehler1 Manfred Brath et al.
  • 1Meteorologisches Institut, Fachbereich Geowissenschaften, Centrum für Erdsystem- und Nachhaltigkeitsforschung (CEN), Universität Hamburg, Bundesstraße 55, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
  • 2Met Office, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, EX1 3PB, UK
  • 3Department of Space, Earth and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, 41296 Gothenburg, Sweden

Abstract. A neural-network-based retrieval method to determine the snow ice water path (SIWP), liquid water path (LWP), and integrated water vapor (IWV) from millimeter and submillimeter brightness temperatures, measured by using airborne radiometers (ISMAR and MARSS), is presented. The neural networks were trained by using atmospheric profiles from the ICON numerical weather prediction (NWP) model and by radiative transfer simulations using the Atmospheric Radiative Transfer Simulator (ARTS). The basic performance of the retrieval method was analyzed in terms of offset (bias) and the median fractional error (MFE), and the benefit of using submillimeter channels was studied in comparison to pure microwave retrievals. The retrieval is offset-free for SIWP  > 0.01 kg m−2, LWP  > 0.1 kg m−2, and IWV  > 3 kg m−2. The MFE of SIWP decreases from 100 % at SIWP  =  0.01 kg m−2 to 20 % at SIWP  =  1 kg m−2 and the MFE of LWP from 100 % at LWP  = 0.05 kg m−2 to 30 % at LWP  =  1 kg m−2. The MFE of IWV for IWV  > 3 kg m−2 is 5 to 8 %. The SIWP retrieval strongly benefits from submillimeter channels, which reduce the MFE by a factor of 2, compared to pure microwave retrievals. The IWV and the LWP retrievals also benefit from submillimeter channels, albeit to a lesser degree. The retrieval was applied to ISMAR and MARSS brightness temperatures from FAAM flight B897 on 18 March 2015 of a precipitating frontal system west of the coast of Iceland. Considering the given uncertainties, the retrieval is in reasonable agreement with the SIWP, LWP, and IWV values simulated by the ICON NWP model for that flight. A comparison of the retrieved IWV with IWV from 12 dropsonde measurements shows an offset of 0.5 kg m−2 and an RMS difference of 0.8 kg m−2, showing that the retrieval of IWV is highly effective even under cloudy conditions.

Short summary
A method to estimate the amounts of ice, liquid water, and water vapor from aircraft radiation measurements at wavelengths just over and under 1 mm is presented and its performance is estimated. The method uses an ensemble of artificial neural networks. It strongly benefits from the submillimeter frequencies reducing the error for the estimated amount of ice by a factor of 2 compared to a traditional microwave method. The method was applied to measurement of a precipitating frontal system.