The ObseRvations of Aerosols above Clouds and their interactions (ORACLES) project is making a series of field deployments to the southeastern Atlantic with NASA ER-2 and P3 aircraft to acquire both detailed remote sensing observations and in situ measurements of the aerosols and clouds in that region. This area is home to one of the largest low-level cloud decks on Earth that is seasonally affected by vast plumes of smoke from biomass burning, which in effect provides a natural experiment testing the radiative and microphysical interactions between the smoke and the clouds. The downward solar radiation at the surface, or cloud top, is always reduced by the presence of smoke. However, whether the amount of sunlight reflected back out to space is increased, or decreased by the presence of smoke is sensitively dependent on the brightness of the clouds and the fraction of light that the smoke absorbs each time light hits a smoke particle. In this study we use data from the Research Scanning Polarimeter, an along track scanning instrument, that provides measurements of the Stokes parameters I, Q and U at 410, 470, 555, 670, 865, 960, 1590, 1880 and 2260 nm at 150 viewing angles over a range of +/- 60 from nadir for each contiguous sub-aircraft pixel (~ 300 m in size). A retrieval algorithm is applied to the data acquired with a table look up technique, similar to that of the operational POLDER algorithm, to provide a first guess of the complex refractive index, optical depth and size distribution of the smoke particles together with cloud droplet size and optical depth. A subsequent iterative fitting procedure, where the fact that the doubling/adding method allows the construction of the Green's function for the radiative transfer equation, is used to obtain an efficient and statistically optimal estimate of the aerosol and cloud retrieval parameters. These retrieval parameters are evaluated against in situ observations, when available, and the optical depth and intensive lidar variables that are measured by the High Spectral Resolution Lidar 2. Finally, the aerosol and cloud retrievals are used to evaluate the variations in top of the atmosphere, surface/cloud top shortwave radiative forcing and atmospheric absorption that are caused by variations in the smoke and clouds.
Earth Resources and Remote Sensing
American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting; 11-15 Dec. 2017; New Orleans, LA; United States