Improved information about the vertical location and extent of monolayer clouds from POLDER3 measurements in the oxygen A-band
Abstract. This paper describes new advances in the exploitation of oxygen A-band measurements from POLDER3 sensor onboard PARASOL, satellite platform within the A-Train. These developments result from not only an account of the dependence of POLDER oxygen parameters to cloud optical thickness τ and to the scene's geometrical conditions but also, and more importantly, from the finer understanding of the sensitivity of these parameters to cloud vertical extent. This sensitivity is made possible thanks to the multidirectional character of POLDER measurements. In the case of monolayer clouds that represent most of cloudy conditions, new oxygen parameters are obtained and calibrated from POLDER3 data colocalized with the measurements of the two active sensors of the A-Train: CALIOP/CALIPSO and CPR/CloudSat. From a parameterization that is (μs, τ) dependent, with μs the cosine of the solar zenith angle, a cloud top oxygen pressure (CTOP) and a cloud middle oxygen pressure (CMOP) are obtained, which are estimates of actual cloud top and middle pressures (CTP and CMP). Performances of CTOP and CMOP are presented by class of clouds following the ISCCP classification. In 2008, the coefficient of the correlation between CMOP and CMP is 0.81 for cirrostratus, 0.79 for stratocumulus, 0.75 for deep convective clouds. The coefficient of the correlation between CTOP and CTP is 0.75, 0.73, and 0.79 for the same cloud types. The score obtained by CTOP, defined as the confidence in the retrieval for a particular range of inferred value and for a given error, is higher than the one of MODIS CTP estimate. Scores of CTOP are the highest for bin value of CTP superior in numbers. For liquid (ice) clouds and an error of 30 hPa (50 hPa), the score of CTOP reaches 50% (70%). From the difference between CTOP and CMOP, a first estimate of the cloud vertical extent h is possible. A second estimate of h comes from the correlation between the angular standard deviation of POLDER oxygen pressure σPO2 and the cloud vertical extent. This correlation is studied in detail in the case of liquid clouds. It is shown to be spatially and temporally robust, except for clouds above land during winter months. The analysis of the correlation's dependence on the scene's characteristics leads to a parameterization providing h from σPO2. For liquid water clouds above ocean in 2008, the mean difference between the actual cloud vertical extent and the one retrieved from σPO2 (from the pressure difference) is 5 m (−12 m). The standard deviation of the mean difference is close to 1000 m for the two methods. POLDER estimates of the cloud geometrical thickness obtain a global score of 50% confidence for a relative error of 20% (40%) of the estimate for ice (liquid) clouds over ocean. These results need to be validated outside of the CALIPSO/CloudSat track.