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Retrieval of ice cloud microphysical parameters using the CloudSat millimeter-wave radar and temperature

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Abstract

[1] A new remote sensing retrieval of ice cloud microphysics has been developed for use with millimeter-wave radar from ground-, air-, or space-based sensors. Developed from an earlier retrieval that used measurements of radar reflectivity factor together with a priori information about the likely cloud targets, the new retrieval includes temperature information as well to assist in determining the correct region of state space, particularly for those size distribution parameters that are less constrained by the radar measurements. These algorithms have served as the ice cloud retrieval algorithms in Releases 3 and 4 of the CloudSat 2B-CWC-RO Standard Data Product. Several comparison studies have been performed on the previous and current retrieval algorithms: some involving tests of the algorithms on simulated radar data (based on actual cloud probe data or cloud resolving models) and others featuring statistical comparisons of the R04 2B-CWC-RO product (current algorithm) to ice cloud mass retrievals by other spaceborne, airborne, and ground-based instruments or alternative algorithms using the same CloudSat radar data. Comparisons involving simulated radar data based on a database of cloud probe data showed generally good performance, with ice water content (IWC) bias errors estimated to be less than 40%. Comparisons to ice water content and ice water path estimates by other instruments are mixed. When the comparison is restricted to different retrieval approaches using the same CloudSat radar measurements, CloudSat R04 results generally agree with alternative IWC retrievals for IWC < 1000 mg m−3 at altitudes below 12 km but differ at higher ice contents and altitudes, either exceeding other retrievals or falling within a spread of retrieval values. Validation and reconciliation of all these approaches will continue to be a topic for further research.

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