FAME-C: cloud property retrieval using synergistic AATSR and MERIS observations
Abstract. A newly developed daytime cloud property retrieval algorithm, FAME-C (Freie Universität Berlin AATSR MERIS Cloud), is presented. Synergistic observations from the Advanced Along-Track Scanning Radiometer (AATSR) and the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS), both mounted on the polar-orbiting Environmental Satellite (Envisat), are used for cloud screening. For cloudy pixels two main steps are carried out in a sequential form. First, a cloud optical and microphysical property retrieval is performed using an AATSR near-infrared and visible channel. Cloud phase, cloud optical thickness, and effective radius are retrieved, and subsequently cloud water path is computed. Second, two cloud top height products are retrieved based on independent techniques. For cloud top temperature, measurements in the AATSR infrared channels are used, while for cloud top pressure, measurements in the MERIS oxygen-A absorption channel are used. Results from the cloud optical and microphysical property retrieval serve as input for the two cloud top height retrievals. Introduced here are the AATSR and MERIS forward models and auxiliary data needed in FAME-C. Also, the optimal estimation method, which provides uncertainty estimates of the retrieved property on a pixel basis, is presented. Within the frame of the European Space Agency (ESA) Climate Change Initiative (CCI) project, the first global cloud property retrievals have been conducted for the years 2007–2009. For this time period, verification efforts are presented, comparing, for four selected regions around the globe, FAME-C cloud optical and microphysical properties to cloud optical and microphysical properties derived from measurements of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite. The results show a reasonable agreement between the cloud optical and microphysical property retrievals. Biases are generally smallest for marine stratocumulus clouds: −0.28, 0.41 μm and −0.18 g m−2 for cloud optical thickness, effective radius and cloud water path, respectively. This is also true for the root-mean-square deviation. Furthermore, both cloud top height products are compared to cloud top heights derived from ground-based cloud radars located at several Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) sites. FAME-C mostly shows an underestimation of cloud top heights when compared to radar observations. The lowest bias of −0.3 km is found for AATSR cloud top heights for single-layer clouds, while the highest bias of −3.0 km is found for AATSR cloud top heights for multilayer clouds. Variability is low for MERIS cloud top heights for low-level clouds, and high for MERIS cloud top heights for mid-level and high-level single-layer clouds, as well as for both AATSR and MERIS cloud top heights for multilayer clouds.