Use of spaceborne lidar for the evaluation of thin cirrus contamination and screening in the Aqua MODIS Collection 5 aerosol products



[1] Cloud contamination from subvisual thin cirrus clouds is still a challenging issue for operational satellite aerosol retrievals. In the A-Train constellation, concurrent high-sensitivity cirrus observations from the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) provide us with an unprecedented opportunity to examine the susceptibility of the Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aerosol retrievals to thin cirrus contamination and to evaluate the robustness of various cirrus screening techniques. Quantitative evaluations indicate that the current cirrus screening schemes in the MODIS Dark Target and Deep Blue Collection 5 aerosol retrievals can effectively remove most cirrus signals while some residual thin cirrus signals still exist with strong spatial and seasonal variability. Results also show significant linkage between thin cirrus occurrence frequency and the susceptibility of aerosol retrievals to thin cirrus contamination. Using the CALIPSO cirrus observations as a reference, we also examined the effectiveness and robustness of eight MODIS-derived cirrus screening parameters. These parameters include apparent reflectance at 1.38 µm (R1.38), cirrus reflectance at 0.66 µm (CR0.66), CR0.66 cirrus flag (CF), reflectance ratio between 1.38 µm and 0.66 µm (RR1.38/0.66), reflectance ratio between 1.38 µm and 1.24 µm (RR1.38/1.24), brightness temperature difference between 8.6 µm and 11 µm (BTD8.6–11), brightness temperature difference between 11 µm and 12 µm (BTD11–12), and cloud phase infrared approach (CPIR). Among these parameters, RR1.38/0.66 achieves the best overall performance, followed by the BTD11–12. Results from several test cases suggest that the cirrus screening schemes in the operational MODIS aerosol retrieval algorithms can be further improved to reduce thin cirrus contamination.