loading page

Fusion of MISR Stereo Cloud Heights and Terra-MODIS Thermal Infrared Radiances to Estimate Multi-layered Cloud Properties
  • Arka Mitra,
  • Jesse Loveridge,
  • Larry Di Girolamo
Arka Mitra
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Jesse Loveridge
University of Illinois
Author Profile
Larry Di Girolamo
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
Author Profile


Our longest, stable record of cloud-top pressure (CTP) and cloud-top height (CTH) are derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Multi-Angle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR) on Terra. Because of single cloud-layer assumptions in their standard algorithms, they provide only single CTP/CTH retrievals in multi-layered situations. In the predominant multi-layered regime of thin cirrus over low clouds, MODIS significantly overestimates cirrus CTP and emissivity, while MISR accurately retrieves low-cloud CTH. Utilizing these complementary capabilities, we develop a retrieval algorithm for accurately determining both-layer CTP and cirrus emissivity for such 2-layered clouds, by applying the MISR low-cloud CTH as a boundary condition to a modified MODIS CO2-slicing retrieval.
We evaluate our 2-layered retrievals against collocated Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) lidar observations. Relative to CATS, the mean bias of the upper cloud CTP and emissivity are reduced by ~90% and ~75% respectively in the new technique, compared to standard MODIS products. We develop an error model for the 2-layered retrieval accounting for systematic and random errors. We find up to 88% of all residuals lie within modeled 95% confidence intervals, indicating a near-closure of error budget. This reduction in error leads to a reduction in modeled atmospheric longwave radiative flux biases ranging between 5-40 Wm-2, depending on the position and optical properties of the layers. Given this large radiative impact, we recommend that the pixel-level 2-layered MODIS+MISR fusion algorithm be applied over the entire MISR swath for the 22-year Terra record, leading to a first-of-its-kind 2-layered cloud climatology from Terra’s morning orbit.