Articles | Volume 8, issue 7
Research article
02 Jul 2015
Research article |  | 02 Jul 2015

Joint retrievals of cloud and drizzle in marine boundary layer clouds using ground-based radar, lidar and zenith radiances

M. D. Fielding, J. C. Chiu, R. J. Hogan, G. Feingold, E. Eloranta, E. J. O'Connor, and M. P. Cadeddu

Abstract. Active remote sensing of marine boundary-layer clouds is challenging as drizzle drops often dominate the observed radar reflectivity. We present a new method to simultaneously retrieve cloud and drizzle vertical profiles in drizzling boundary-layer clouds using surface-based observations of radar reflectivity, lidar attenuated backscatter, and zenith radiances under conditions when precipitation does not reach the surface. Specifically, the vertical structure of droplet size and water content of both cloud and drizzle is characterised throughout the cloud. An ensemble optimal estimation approach provides full error statistics given the uncertainty in the observations. To evaluate the new method, we first perform retrievals using synthetic measurements from large-eddy simulation snapshots of cumulus under stratocumulus, where cloud water path is retrieved with an error of 31 g m−2. The method also performs well in non-drizzling clouds where no assumption of the cloud profile is required. We then apply the method to observations of marine stratocumulus obtained during the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement MAGIC deployment in the Northeast Pacific. Here, retrieved cloud water path agrees well with independent three-channel microwave radiometer retrievals, with a root mean square difference of 10–20 g m−2.