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MIPAS detection of cloud and aerosol particle occurrence in the UTLS with comparison to HIRDLS and CALIOP

Author(s): H. Sembhi | J. Remedios | T. Trent | D. P. Moore | R. Spang | S. Massie | J.-P. Vernier

Journal: Atmospheric Measurement Techniques Discussions
ISSN 1867-8610

Volume: 5;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1795;
Date: 2012;
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Satellite infra-red emission instruments require efficient systems that can separate and flag observations which are affected by clouds and aerosols. This paper investigates the identification of cloud and aerosols from infra-red, limb sounding spectra recorded by the Michelson Interferometer for Passive Atmospheric Sounding (MIPAS), a high spectral resolution, Fourier transform spectrometer on ENVISAT. Specifically, the performance of an existing cloud and aerosol particle detection method is simulated, with a radiative transfer model, in order to establish for the first time limits to confident detection of particle effects in MIPAS data. The newly established thresholds improve confidence in the ability of MIPAS to detect particle injection events and plume transport in the UTLS as well as better characterised cloud distributions. The method also provides a fast front-end detection system for the MIPClouds processor, a processor designed for the retrieval of macro- and microphysical cloud properties from the MIPAS data. It is shown that across much of the stratosphere, the threshold for the standard cloud index in band A is 5 although values of greater than 6 occur in restricted regimes. Polar regions show a surprising degree of uncertainty at altitudes above 20 km due to potential high ClO formation and also poor signal-to-noise due to low atmosphere temperatures. The optimised thresholds of this study can be used for much of the time, but time/composition dependent thresholds are recommended for MIPAS data for the strongly perturbed polar stratosphere. In the UT, thresholds of 5 apply at 12 km and above but decrease rapidly at lower altitudes. The new thresholds are shown to allow much more sensitive detection of particle distributions in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS), with extinction detection limits above 13 km often better than 10−4 km−1, with values approaching 10−5 km−1 in some cases. Comparisons of the new MIPAS results with data from HIRDLS and CALIOP, outside of the poles, establishes good agreement in distributions (cloud occurrence frequencies and clouds and aerosol top heights) with an offset between MIPAS and the other instruments of 0.5 km between 12 and 20 km. We conclude that current infra-red limb sounders provide a very consistent picture of particles in the UTLS, allowing detection limits which are consistent with the lidar observations. Investigations of the MIPAS data for the Kasatochi volcanic eruption and the Black Saturday fires in Australia are used to exemplify the usefulness of MIPAS limb sounding data for monitoring aerosol injections into the UTLS, and into the stratosphere, in particular over monthly timescales. It is shown that the new thresholds allow such events to be much more effectively monitored from MIPAS with detection limits for these case studies of 1 × 10−5 km−1 at 12 μm.
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