Articles | Volume 4, issue 3
Research article
08 Mar 2011
Research article |  | 08 Mar 2011

MERIS albedo climatology for FRESCO+ O2 A-band cloud retrieval

C. Popp, P. Wang, D. Brunner, P. Stammes, Y. Zhou, and M. Grzegorski

Abstract. A new global albedo climatology for Oxygen A-band cloud retrievals is presented. The climatology is based on MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) Albedomap data and its favourable impact on the derivation of cloud fraction is demonstrated for the FRESCO+ (Fast Retrieval Scheme for Clouds from the Oxygen A-band) algorithm. To date, a relatively coarse resolution (1° × 1°) surface reflectance dataset from GOME (Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment) Lambert-equivalent reflectivity (LER) is used in FRESCO+. The GOME LER climatology does not account for the usually higher spatial resolution of UV/VIS instruments designed for trace gas remote sensing which introduces several artefacts, e.g. in regions with sharp spectral contrasts like coastlines or over bright surface targets. Therefore, MERIS black-sky albedo (BSA) data from the period October 2002 to October 2006 were aggregated to a grid of 0.25° × 0.25° for each month of the year and for different spectral channels. In contrary to other available surface reflectivity datasets, MERIS includes channels at 754 nm and 775 nm which are located close to the spectral windows required for O2 A-band cloud retrievals.

The MERIS BSA in the near-infrared compares well to Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) derived BSA with an average difference lower than 1% and a correlation coefficient of 0.98. However, when relating MERIS BSA to GOME LER a distinctly lower correlation (0.80) and enhanced scatter is found. Effective cloud fractions from two exemplary months (January and July 2006) of Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Chartography (SCIAMACHY) data were subsequently derived with FRESCO+ and compared to those from the Heidelberg Iterative Cloud Retrieval Utilities (HICRU) algorithm. The MERIS climatology generally improves FRESCO+ effective cloud fractions. In particular small cloud fractions are in better agreement with HICRU. This is of importance for atmospheric trace gas retrieval which relies on accurate cloud information at small cloud fractions. In addition, overestimates along coastlines and underestimates in the Intertropical Convergence Zone introduced by the GOME LER were eliminated. While effective cloud fractions over the Saharan desert and the Arabian peninsula are successfully reduced in January, they are still too high in July relative to HICRU due to FRESCO+'s large sensitivity to albedo inaccuracies of highly reflecting targets and inappropriate aerosol information which hampers an accurate albedo retrieval. Finally, NO2 tropospheric vertical column densities and O3 total columns were derived with the FRESCO+ cloud parameters from the new dataset and it is found that the MERIS BSA climatology has a pronounced and beneficial effect on regional scale. Apart from FRESCO+, the new MERIS albedo dataset is applicable to any cloud retrieval algorithms using the O2 A-band or the O2-O2 absorption band around 477 nm. Moreover, the by-product of BSA at 442 nm can be used in NO2 remote sensing and the BSA at 620 nm, 665 nm, and 681 nm could be integrated in current H2O retrievals.