Problems in separating aerosol and cloud in the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) II data set under conditions of lofted dust: Application to the Asian deserts



[1] Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment II aerosol data obtained at two wavelengths, 525 nm and 1020 nm, have been used for some time to identify the presence of cloud along the optical path from the Sun to the satellite instrument. Examination of data obtained over desert regions in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly the Taklimakan Desert, indicates that this separation method does not always operate correctly. In regions where there is expected to be a large amount of lofted dust, unexpectedly low values of mean extinction are found, combined with higher than expected amounts of cloud. These anomalous data have been analyzed in detail, and the discrepancy is plausibly shown to be due to faulty identification of lofted dust as cloud. Six Northern Hemisphere desert regions, together with three comparison regions, have been identified for study and the anomalies used to develop a description of the seasonal and altitudinal characteristics of the lofted aerosol over these regions.