Cloud properties derived from two lidars over the ARM SGP site



[1] Active remote sensors such as lidars or radars can be used with other data to quantify the cloud properties at regional scale and at global scale. Relative to radar, lidar remote sensing is sensitive to very thin and high clouds but has a significant limitation due to signal attenuation in the ability to precisely quantify the properties of clouds with a cloud optical thickness larger than 3. The cloud properties for all levels of clouds are derived and distributions of cloud base height (CBH), top height (CTH), physical cloud thickness (CT), and optical thickness (COT) from local statistics are compared. The goal of this study is (1) to establish a climatology of macrophysical and optical properties for all levels of clouds observed over the ARM SGP site and (2) to estimate the discrepancies between the two remote sensing systems (pulse energy, sampling, resolution, etc.). Our first results tend to show that the MPL, which are the primary ARM lidars, have a distinctly limited range within which all of these cloud properties are detectable, especially cloud top and cloud thickness, but this can include cloud base particularly during summer daytime period. According to the comparisons between RL and MPL, almost 50% of situations show a signal to noise ratio too low (smaller than 3) for the MPL in order to detect clouds higher than 7km during daytime period in summer. Consequently, the MPL-derived annual cycle of cirrus cloud base (top) altitude is biased low, especially for daylight periods, compared with those derived from the RL data, which detects cloud base ranging from 7.5 km in winter to 9.5 km in summer (and tops ranging from 8.6 to 10.5 km). The optically thickest cirrus clouds (COT > 0.3) reach 50% of the total population for the Raman lidar and only 20% for the Micropulse lidar due to the difference of pulse energy and the effect of solar irradiance contamination. A complementary study using the cloud fraction derived from the Micropulse lidar for clouds below 5 km and from the Raman lidar for cloud above 5 km allows for better estimation of the total cloud fraction between the ground and the top of the atmosphere. This study presents the diurnal cycle of cloud fraction for each season in comparisons with Long et al.'s (2006) cloud fraction calculation derived from radiative flux analysis.