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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2018-308
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2018-308
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 27 Sep 2018

Research article | 27 Sep 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Airborne validation of radiative transfer modelling of ice clouds at millimetre and sub-millimetre wavelengths

Stuart Fox1, Jana Mendrok2, Patrick Eriksson2, Robin Ekelund2, Sebastian J. O'Shea3, Keith N. Bower3, R. Chawn Harlow1, and Juliet C. Pickering4 Stuart Fox et al.
  • 1Met Office, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, UK, EX1 3PB
  • 2Department of Space, Earth and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, 41296 Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 3Centre for Atmospheric Science, School of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK, M13 9PL
  • 4Space and Atmospheric Physics Group, Imperial College London, London, UK

Abstract. The next generation of European polar orbiting weather satellites will carry a novel instrument, the Ice Cloud Imager (ICI), which uses passive observations between 183 and 664GHz to make daily global observations of cloud ice. Successful use of these observations requires accurate modelling of cloud ice scattering, and this study uses airborne observations from two flights of the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) BAe-146 research aircraft to validate radiative transfer simulations of cirrus clouds at frequencies between 325 and 664GHz using the Atmospheric Radiative Transfer Simulator (ARTS) and a state-of-the-art database of cloud ice optical properties. Particular care is taken to ensure that the inputs to the radiative transfer model are representative of the true atmospheric state by combining both remote-sensing and in-situ observations of the same clouds to create realistic vertical profiles of cloud properties that are consistent with both observed particle size distributions and bulk ice mass. The simulations are compared to measurements from the International Submillimetre Airborne Radiometer (ISMAR), which is an airborne demonstrator for ICI. It is shown that whilst they are generally able to reproduce the observed cloud signals, for a given ice water path (IWP) there is considerable sensitivity to the cloud microphysics including the distribution of ice mass within the cloud and the ice particle habit. Accurate retrievals from ICI will therefore require realistic representations of cloud microphysical properties.

Stuart Fox et al.
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Stuart Fox et al.
Stuart Fox et al.
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Short summary
Airborne observations of ice clouds are used to validate radiative transfer simulations using a state-of-the art database of cloud ice optical properties. Simulations at these wavelenghts are required to make use of future satellite instruments such as the Ice Cloud Imager. We show that they can generally reproduce observed cloud signals, but for a given total ice mass there is considerable sensitivity to the cloud microphysics, including the particle shape and distribution of ice mass.
Airborne observations of ice clouds are used to validate radiative transfer simulations using a...
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