Articles | Volume 4, issue 4
Research article
07 Apr 2011
Research article |  | 07 Apr 2011

Retrieval of macrophysical cloud parameters from MIPAS: algorithm description

J. Hurley, A. Dudhia, and R. G. Grainger

Abstract. The Michelson Interferometer for Passive Atmospheric Sounding (MIPAS) onboard ENVISAT has the potential to be particularly useful for studying high, thin clouds, which have been difficult to observe in the past. This paper details the development, implementation and testing of an optimal-estimation-type retrieval for three macrophysical cloud parameters (cloud top height, cloud top temperature and cloud extinction coefficient) from infrared spectra measured by MIPAS. A preliminary estimation of a parameterisation of the optical and geometrical filling of the measurement field-of-view by cloud is employed as the first step of the retrieval process to improve the choice of a priori for the macrophysical parameters themselves.

Preliminary application to single-scattering simulations indicates that the retrieval error stemming from uncertainties introduced by noise and by a priori variances in the retrieval process itself is small – although it should be noted that these retrieval errors do not include the significant errors stemming from the assumption of homogeneity and the non-scattering nature of the forward model. Such errors are preliminarily and qualitatively assessed here, and are likely to be the dominant error sources. The retrieval converges for 99% of input cases, although sometimes fails to converge for vetically-thin (<1 km) clouds. The retrieval algorithm is applied to MIPAS data; the results of which are qualitatively compared with CALIPSO cloud top heights and PARASOL cloud opacities. From comparison with CALIPSO cloud products, it must be noted that the cloud detection method used in this algorithm appears to potentially misdetect stratospheric aerosol layers as cloud.

This algorithm has been adopted by the European Space Agency's "MIPclouds" project.