Articles | Volume 9, issue 9
Research article
07 Sep 2016
Research article |  | 07 Sep 2016

Infrared limb emission measurements of aerosol in the troposphere and stratosphere

Sabine Griessbach, Lars Hoffmann, Reinhold Spang, Marc von Hobe, Rolf Müller, and Martin Riese

Abstract. Altitude-resolved aerosol detection in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS) is a challenging task for remote sensing instruments. Infrared limb emission measurements provide vertically resolved global measurements at day- and nighttime in the UTLS. For high-spectral-resolution infrared limb instruments we present here a new method to detect aerosol and separate between ice and non-ice particles. The method is based on an improved aerosol–cloud index that identifies infrared limb emission spectra affected by non-ice aerosol or ice clouds. For the discrimination between non-ice aerosol and ice clouds we employed brightness temperature difference correlations. The discrimination thresholds for this method were derived from radiative transfer simulations (including scattering) and Michelson Interferometer for Passive Atmospheric Sounding (MIPAS)/Envisat measurements obtained in 2011. We demonstrate the value of this approach for observations of volcanic ash and sulfate aerosol originating from the Grímsvötn (Iceland, 64° N), Puyehue–Cordón Caulle (Chile, 40° S), and Nabro (Eritrea, 13° N) eruptions in May and June 2011 by comparing the MIPAS volcanic aerosol detections with Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) volcanic ash and SO2 measurements.

Short summary
A new method for detecting aerosol in the UTLS based on infrared limb emission measurements is presented. The method was developed using radiative transfer simulations (including scattering) and Envisat MIPAS measurements. Results are presented for volcanic ash and sulfate aerosol originating from the Grimsvötn (Iceland), Puyehue–Cordon Caulle (Chile), and Nabro (Eritrea) eruptions in 2011 and compared with AIRS volcanic ash and SO2 measurements.