Articles | Volume 2, issue 2
04 Nov 2009
 | 04 Nov 2009

Cloud sensitivity studies for stratospheric and lower mesospheric ozone profile retrievals from measurements of limb-scattered solar radiation

T. Sonkaew, V. V. Rozanov, C. von Savigny, A. Rozanov, H. Bovensmann, and J. P. Burrows

Abstract. Clouds in the atmosphere play an important role in reflection, absorption and transmission of solar radiation and thus affect trace gas retrievals. The main goal of this paper is to examine the sensitivity of stratospheric and lower mesospheric ozone retrievals from limb-scattered radiance measurements to clouds using the SCIATRAN radiative transfer model and retrieval package. The retrieval approach employed is optimal estimation, and the considered clouds are vertically and horizontally homogeneous. Assuming an aerosol-free atmosphere and Mie phase functions for cloud particles, we compute the relative error of ozone profile retrievals in a cloudy atmosphere if clouds are neglected in the retrieval. To access altitudes from the lower stratosphere up to the lower mesosphere, we combine the retrievals in the Chappuis and Hartley ozone absorption bands. We find significant cloud sensitivity of the limb ozone retrievals in the Chappuis bands at lower stratospheric altitudes. The relative error in the retrieved ozone concentrations gradually decreases with increasing altitude and becomes negligible above approximately 40 km. The parameters with the largest impact on the ozone retrievals are cloud optical thickness, ground albedo and solar zenith angle. Clouds with different geometrical thicknesses or different cloud altitudes have a similar impact on the ozone retrievals for a given cloud optical thickness value, if the clouds are outside the field of view of the instrument. The effective radius of water droplets has a small influence on the error, i.e., less than 0.5% at altitudes above the cloud top height. Furthermore, the impact of clouds on the ozone profile retrievals was found to have a rather small dependence on the solar azimuth angle (less than 1% for all possible azimuth angles). For the most frequent cloud types, the total error is below 6% above 15 km altitude, if clouds are completely neglected in the retrieval. Neglecting clouds in the ozone profile retrievals generally leads to a low bias for a low ground albedo and to a high bias for a high ground albedo, assuming that the ground albedo is well known.