Articles | Volume 5, issue 7
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 5, 1529–1549, 2012

Special issue: Remote sensing of aerosols and clouds (EGU2011)

Atmos. Meas. Tech., 5, 1529–1549, 2012

Research article 06 Jul 2012

Research article | 06 Jul 2012

Observing ice clouds in the submillimeter spectral range: the CloudIce mission proposal for ESA's Earth Explorer 8

S. A. Buehler1, E. Defer2, F. Evans3, S. Eliasson1, J. Mendrok1, P. Eriksson4, C. Lee5, C. Jiménez2, C. Prigent2, S. Crewell6, Y. Kasai7, R. Bennartz8, and A. J. Gasiewski9 S. A. Buehler et al.
  • 1Division of Space Technology, Department of Computer Science, Electrical and Space Engineering, Luleå University of Technology, Kiruna, Sweden
  • 2CNRS, Laboratoire d'Etudes du Rayonnement et de la Matière en Astrophysique, Observatoire de Paris, Paris, France
  • 3Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
  • 4Department of Earth and Space Sciences, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 5Met Office, Exeter, UK
  • 6Institute for Geophysics and Meteorology, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
  • 7National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), Tokyo, Japan
  • 8Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA
  • 9NOAA-CU Center for Environmental Technology (CET), Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, USA

Abstract. Passive submillimeter-wave sensors are a way to obtain urgently needed global data on ice clouds, particularly on the so far poorly characterized "essential climate variable" ice water path (IWP) and on ice particle size. CloudIce was a mission proposal to the European Space Agency ESA in response to the call for Earth Explorer 8 (EE8), which ran in 2009/2010. It proposed a passive submillimeter-wave sensor with channels ranging from 183 GHz to 664 GHz. The article describes the CloudIce mission proposal, with particular emphasis on describing the algorithms for the data-analysis of submillimeter-wave cloud ice data (retrieval algorithms) and demonstrating their maturity. It is shown that we have a robust understanding of the radiative properties of cloud ice in the millimeter/submillimeter spectral range, and that we have a proven toolbox of retrieval algorithms to work with these data. Although the mission was not selected for EE8, the concept will be useful as a reference for other future mission proposals.