23 Mar 2023
 | 23 Mar 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Cloud top heights and aerosol columnar properties from combined EarthCARE lidar and imager observations: the AM-CTH and AM-ACD products

Moritz Haarig, Anja Hünerbein, Ulla Wandinger, Nicole Docter, Sebastian Bley, David Donovan, and Gerd-Jan van Zadelhoff

Abstract. The Earth Clouds, Aerosols and Radiation Explorer (EarthCARE) is the combination of multiple active and passive instruments on a single platform. The Atmospheric Lidar (ATLID) provides vertical information of clouds and aerosol particles along the satellite track. In addition, the Multi-Spectral Imager (MSI) collects the multispectral information from the visible till the infrared wavelengths over a swath width of 150 km across the track. The ATLID–MSI Column Products processor (AM-COL) described in this paper combines the high vertical resolution of the lidar along track and the horizontal resolution of the imager across track to better characterize the 3-dimensional scene. ATLID Level 2a (L2a) data from the ATLID Layer Products processor (A-LAY) and MSI L2a data from the MSI Cloud Products processor (M-CLD) and the MSI Aerosol Optical Thickness processor (M-AOT) as well as MSI Level 1c (L1c) data are used as input to produce the synergistic columnar products: the ATLID–MSI Cloud Top Height (AM-CTH) and the ATLID–MSI Aerosol Column Descriptor (AM-ACD). The coupling of ATLID (measuring at 355 nm) and MSI (at ≥ 670 nm) provides multispectral observations of the aerosol properties. Especially, the Ångström exponent from the spectral aerosol optical thickness (AOT 355 nm/670 nm) adds valuable information for aerosol typing. The AOT across track, the Ångström exponent and the dominant aerosol type are stored in the AM-ACD product. The accurate detection of the Cloud Top Height (CTH) with lidar is limited to the ATLID track. The difference of the CTH detected by ATLID and MSI is calculated along track. The similarity of MSI pixels across track with those along track is used to transfer the calculated CTH difference to the entire MSI swath. In this way, the accuracy of the CTH is increased to achieve the EarthCARE mission goal aiming to derive the radiative flux at the top of the atmosphere with an accuracy of 10 Wm−2 for a 100 km2 snapshot view of the atmosphere. The synergistic CTH difference is stored in the AM-CTH product. The quality status depending on day/night conditions or the presence of multiple cloud or aerosol layers is provided with the products. The algorithm was successfully tested using the common EarthCARE test scenes. Two definitions of the CTH from the model-truth cloud extinction fields are compared: An extinction-based threshold of 20 Mm−1 provides the geometric CTH and a cloud-optical-thickness threshold of 0.25 describes the radiative CTH. The first one is detected with ATLID, the second one with MSI.

Moritz Haarig et al.

Status: open (until 23 Jun 2023)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-327', Anonymous Referee #1, 02 Jun 2023 reply

Moritz Haarig et al.

Moritz Haarig et al.


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Short summary
The atmospheric lidar (ATLID) and Multi-Spectral Imager (MSI) will be carried by the EarthCARE satellite. The synergistic ATLID–MSI Column Products (AM-COL) algorithm described in the paper combines the strengths of ATLID in vertically-resolved profiles of aerosol and clouds (e.g., cloud top height) with the benefits of MSI in observing the complete scene besides the satellite track and to extend the lidar information to the swath. The algorithm is validated against simulated test scenes.