Satellite Observations of Cloud-Related Variations in Aerosol Properties

Várnai, T., and A. Marshak (2018), Satellite Observations of Cloud-Related Variations in Aerosol Properties, Atmosphere, 9, 430, doi:10.3390/atmos9110430.

This paper presents an overview of our efforts to characterize and better understand cloud-related changes in aerosol properties. These efforts primarily involved the statistical analysis of global or regional datasets of Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) aerosol and cloud observations. The results show that in oceanic regions, more than half of all aerosol measurements by passive satellite instruments come from near-cloud areas, where clouds and cloud-related processes may significantly modify aerosol optical depth and particle size. Aerosol optical depth is also shown to increase systematically with regional cloud amount throughout the Earth. In contrast, it is shown that effective particle size can either increase or decrease with increasing cloud cover. In bimodal aerosol populations, the sign of changes depends on whether coarse mode or small mode aerosols are most affected by clouds. The results also indicate that over large parts of Earth, undetected cloud particles are not the dominant reason for the satellite-observed changes with cloud amount, and that 3D radiative processes contribute about 30% of the observed near-cloud changes. The findings underline the need for improving our ability to accurately measure aerosols near clouds.

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Radiation Science Program (RSP)