Information content of visible and midinfrared radiances for retrieving...

Chang, K., T. L'Ecuyer, B. Kahn, and V. Natraj (2017), Information content of visible and midinfrared radiances for retrieving tropical ice cloud properties, J. Geophys. Res., 122, 4944-4966, doi:10.1002/2016JD026357.

Hyperspectral instruments such as Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) have spectrally dense observations effective for ice cloud retrievals. However, due to the large number of channels, only a small subset is typically used. It is crucial that this subset of channels be chosen to contain the maximum possible information about the retrieved variables. This study describes an information content analysis designed to select optimal channels for ice cloud retrievals. To account for variations in ice cloud properties, we perform channel selection over an ensemble of cloud regimes, extracted with a clustering algorithm, from a multiyear database at a tropical Atmospheric Radiation Measurement site. Multiple satellite viewing angles over land and ocean surfaces are considered to simulate the variations in observation scenarios. The results suggest that AIRS channels near wavelengths of 14, 10.4, 4.2, and 3.8 μm contain the most information. With an eye toward developing a joint AIRS-MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) retrieval, the analysis is also applied to combined measurements from both instruments. While application of this method to MODIS yields results consistent with previous channel sensitivity studies, the analysis shows that this combination may yield substantial improvement in cloud retrievals. MODIS provides most information on optical thickness and particle size, aided by a better constraint on cloud vertical placement from AIRS. An alternate scenario where cloud top boundaries are supplied by the active sensors in the A-train is also explored. The more robust cloud placement afforded by active sensors shifts the optimal channels toward the window region and shortwave infrared, further constraining optical thickness and particle size.

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