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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2020-02-06
    Description: In early 2013, three airborne polarimeters were flown on the high altitude NASA ER-2 aircraft in California for the Polarimeter Definition Experiment (PODEX). PODEX supported the pre-formulation NASA Aerosol-Cloud-Ecosystem (ACE) mission, which calls for an imaging polarimeter in polar orbit (among other instruments) for the remote sensing of aerosols, oceans and clouds. Several polarimeter concepts exist as airborne prototypes, some of which were deployed during PODEX as a capabilities test. Two of those instruments to date have successfully produced Level 1 (georegistered, calibrated radiance and polarization) data from that campaign: the Airborne Multiangle SpectroPolarimetric Imager (AirMSPI) and the Research Scanning Polarimeter (RSP). We compared georegistered observations of a variety of scene types by these instruments to test if Level 1 products agree within stated uncertainties. Initial comparisons found radiometric agreement, but polarimetric biases beyond measurement uncertainties. After subsequent updates to calibration, georegistration, and the measurement uncertainty models, observations from the instruments now largely agree within stated uncertainties. However, the 470nm reflectance channels have a roughly +6% bias of AirMSPI relative to RSP, beyond expected measurement uncertainties. We also find that observations of dark (ocean) scenes, where polarimetric uncertainty is expected to be largest, do not agree within stated polarimetric uncertainties. Otherwise, AirMSPI and RSP observations are consistent within measurement uncertainty expectations, providing credibility for subsequent creation of Level 2 (geophysical product) data from these instruments, and comparison thereof. The techniques used in this work can also form a methodological basis for other intercomparisons, such as of the data gathered during the recent Aerosol Characterization from Polarimeter and Lidar (ACEPOL) field campaign, carried out in October and November of 2017 with four polarimeters (including AirMSPI and RSP).
    Keywords: Earth Resources and Remote Sensing
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN63819 , Applied Optics (ISSN 1559-128X) (e-ISSN 2155-3165); 58; 3; 650-669
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2019-07-20
    Description: When observed from the ground, optically thick clouds minimally polarize light, while the linear polarization direction (angle) of optically thin clouds contains information about thermodynamic phase. For instruments such at the Cimel radiometers that comprise the AErosol RObotic NEtwork (AERONET), these properties can also be exploited to aid cloud optical property retrievals. Using vector radiative transfer simulations, we explore the conditions most favorable to cloud thermodynamic phase determination, then test with actual AERONET data. Results indicate that this technique may be appropriate for some, but not all, conditions, and motivate a deeper investigation about the polarization direction measurement capability of Cimel instruments, which to date have been primarily used to determine degree of polarization. Recent work explores these measurement issues using a newly installed instrument at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.
    Keywords: Earth Resources and Remote Sensing
    Type: ARC-E-DAA-TN29258 , AGU Fall Meeting; Dec 14, 2015 - Dec 18, 2015; San Francisco, CA; United States
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: 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.
    Keywords: Earth Resources and Remote Sensing
    Type: A11C-1897 , GSFC-E-DAA-TN50461 , American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting; Dec 11, 2017 - Dec 15, 2017; New Orleans, LA; United States
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: Remote sensing of aerosol optical properties is difficult, but multi-angle, multi-spectral, polarimetric instruments have the potential to retrieve sufficient information about aerosols that they can be used to improve global climate models. However, the complexity of these instruments means that it is difficult to intuitively understand the relationship between instrument design and retrieval success. We apply a Bayesian statistical technique that relates instrument characteristics to the information contained in an observation. Using realistic simulations of fine size mode dominated spherical aerosols, we investigate three instrument designs. Two of these represent instruments currently in orbit: the Multiangle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) and the POLarization and Directionality of the Earths Reflectances (POLDER). The third is the Aerosol Polarimetry Sensor (APS), which failed to reach orbit during recent launch, but represents a viable design for future instruments. The results show fundamental differences between the three, and offer suggestions for future instrument design and the optimal retrieval strategy for current instruments. Generally, our results agree with previous validation efforts of POLDER and airborne prototypes of APS, but show that the MISR aerosol optical thickness uncertainty characterization is possibly underestimated.
    Keywords: Optics
    Type: GSFC.JA.7129.2012 , Optics Express; 20; 19; 21457-21484
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: We compare stochastic models of microscale surface roughness assuming uniform and Weibull distributions of crystal facet tilt angles to calculate scattering by roughened hexagonal ice crystals using the geometric optics (GO) approximation. Both distributions are determined by similar roughness parameters, while the Weibull model depends on the additional shape parameter. Calculations were performed for two visible wavelengths (864 nm and 410 nm) for roughness values between 0.2 and 0.7 and Weibull shape parameters between 0 and 1.0 for crystals with aspect ratios of 0.21, 1 and 4.8. For this range of parameters we find that, for a given roughness level, varying the Weibull shape parameter can change the asymmetry parameter by up to about 0.05. The largest effect of the shape parameter variation on the phase function is found in the backscattering region, while the degree of linear polarization is most affected at the side-scattering angles. For high roughness, scattering properties calculated using the uniform and Weibull models are in relatively close agreement for a given roughness parameter, especially when a Weibull shape parameter of 0.75 is used. For smaller roughness values, a shape parameter close to unity provides a better agreement. Notable differences are observed in the phase function over the scattering angle range from 5deg to 20deg, where the uniform roughness model produces a plateau while the Weibull model does not.
    Keywords: Earth Resources and Remote Sensing
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN31345 , Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy & Radiative Transfer (ISSN 0022-4073); 178; 134-141
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: The physical and chemical properties of soil dust aerosol particles fundamentally affect their interaction with climate, including shortwave absorption and radiative forcing, nucleation of cloud droplets and ice crystals, heterogeneous formation of sulfates and nitrates on the surface of dust particles, and atmospheric processing of iron into bioavailable forms that increase the productivity of marine phytoplankton. Lidar measurements, such as extinction-to-backscatter, color and depolarization ratios, are frequently used to distinguish between aerosol types with different physical and chemical properties. The chemical composition of aerosol particles determines their complex refractive index, hence affecting their backscattering properties. Here we present a study on how dust aerosol backscattering and depolarization properties at wavelengths of 355, 532 and 1064 nm are related to size and complex refractive index, which varies with the mineral composition of the dust. Dust aerosols are represented by collections of spheroids with a range of prolate and oblate aspect ratios and their optical properties are obtained using T-matrix calculations. We find simple, systematic relationships between lidar observables and the dust size and complex refractive index that may aid the use of space-based or airborne lidars for direct retrieval of dust properties or for the evaluation of chemical transport models using forward simulated lidar variables. In addition, we present first results on the spatial variation of forward-simulated lidar variables based on a dust model that accounts for the atmospheric cycle of eight different mineral types plus internal mixtures of seven mineral types with iron oxides, which was recently implemented in the NASA GISS Earth System ModelE2.
    Keywords: Meteorology and Climatology
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN28739 , AGU Fall Meeting; Dec 14, 2015 - Dec 18, 2015; San Francisco, CA; United States
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  • 7
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: A fundamental problem in remote sensing and radiative transfer simulations involving ice clouds is the ability to compute accurate optical properties for individual ice particles. While relatively simple and intuitively appealing, the conventional geometric-optics method (CGOM) is used frequently for the solution of light scattering by ice crystals. Due to the approximations in the ray-tracing technique, the CGOM accuracy is not well quantified. The result is that the uncertainties are introduced that can impact many applications. Improvements in the Invariant Imbedding T-matrix method (II-TM) and the Improved Geometric-Optics Method (IGOM) provide a mechanism to assess the aforementioned uncertainties. The results computed by the II-TMIGOM are considered as a benchmark because the IITM solves Maxwell's equations from first principles and is applicable to particle size parameters ranging into the domain at which the IGOM has reasonable accuracy. To assess the uncertainties with the CGOM in remote sensing and radiative transfer simulations, two independent optical property datasets of hexagonal columns are developed for sensitivity studies by using the CGOM and the II-TMIGOM, respectively. Ice cloud bulk optical properties obtained from the two datasets are compared and subsequently applied to retrieve the optical thickness and effective diameter from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) measurements. Additionally, the bulk optical properties are tested in broadband radiative transfer (RT) simulations using the general circulation model (GCM) version of the Rapid Radiative Transfer Model (RRTMG) that is adopted in the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Community Atmosphere Model (CAM, version 5.1). For MODIS retrievals, the mean bias of uncertainties of applying the CGOM in shortwave bands (0.86 and 2.13 micrometers) can be up to 5% in the optical thickness and as high as 20% in the effective diameter, depending on cloud optical thickness and effective diameter. In the MODIS infrared window bands centered at 8.5, 11, and 12 micrometers biases in the optical thickness and effective diameter are up to 12% and 10%, respectively. The CGOM-based simulation errors in ice cloud radiative forcing calculations are on the order of 10Wm(exp 2).
    Keywords: Earth Resources and Remote Sensing; Optics
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN16358 , Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer; 146; 158-174
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  • 8
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: The Research Scanning Polarimeter (RSP) is an airborne along-track scanner measuring the polarized and total reflectance in 9 spectral channels. Its uniquely high angular resolution allows for characterization of liquid water cloud droplet sizes using the rainbow structure observed in the polarized reflectance over the scattering angle range from 135 to 165 degrees. Such an angular resolution coupled with high frequency of the RSP measurements also allows for geometric constraint of the cumulus cloud's 2D cross section between a number of tangent lines of view, thus, providing estimates of the macroscopic parameters of the cloud, such as its geometric shape, dimensions, and height above the ground.
    Keywords: Meteorology and Climatology
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN59500 , Conference on Cloud Physics/Conference on Atmospheric Radiation; Jul 09, 2018 - Jul 13, 2018; Vancouver, BC; Canada
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  • 9
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: Ice crystals in clouds are highly complex. Their sizes, macroscale shape (i.e., habit), mesoscale shape (i.e., aspect ratio of components) and microscale shape (i.e., surface roughness) determine optical properties and affect physical properties such as fall speeds, growth rates and aggregation efficiency. Our current understanding on the formation and evolution of ice crystals under various conditions can be considered poor. Commonly, ice crystal size and shape are related to ambient temperature and humidity, but global observational statistics on the variation of ice crystal size and particularly shape have not been available. Here we show results of a project aiming to infer ice crystal size, shape and scattering properties from a combination of MODIS measurements and POLDER-PARASOL multi-angle polarimetry. The shape retrieval procedure infers the mean aspect ratios of components of ice crystals and the mean microscale surface roughness levels, which are quantifiable parameters that mostly affect the scattering properties, in contrast to a habit. We present global statistics on the variation of ice effective radius, component aspect ratio, microscale surface roughness and scattering asymmetry parameter as a function of cloud top temperature, latitude, location, cloud type, season, etc. Generally, with increasing height, sizes decrease, roughness increases, asymmetry parameters decrease and aspect ratios increase towards unity. Some systematic differences are observed for clouds warmer and colder than the homogeneous freezing level. Uncertainties in the retrievals will be discussed. These statistics can be used as observational targets for modeling efforts and to better constrain other satellite remote sensing applications and their uncertainties.
    Keywords: Meteorology and Climatology
    Type: A11B-1880 , GSFC-E-DAA-TN50420 , 2017 AGU Fall Meeting; Dec 11, 2017 - Dec 15, 2017; New Orleans, LA; United States
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  • 10
    Publication Date: 2019-07-13
    Description: Cloud top height (CTH) affects the radiative properties of clouds. Improved CTH observations will allow for improved parameterizations in large-scale models and accurate information on CTH is also important when studying variations in freezing point and cloud microphysics. NASAs airborne Research Scanning Polarimeter (RSP) is able to measure cloud top height using a novel multi-angular contrast approach. For the determination of CTH, a set of consecutive nadir reflectances is selected and the cross-correlations between this set and co-located sets at other viewing angles are calculated for a range of assumed cloud top heights, yielding a correlation profile. Under the assumption that cloud reflectances are isotropic, local peaks in the correlation profile indicate cloud layers. This technique can be applied to every RSP footprint and we demonstrate that detection of multiple peaks in the correlation profile allow retrieval of heights of multiple cloud layers within single RSP footprints. This paper provides an in-depth description of the architecture and performance of the RSPs CTH retrieval technique using data obtained during the Studies of Emissions and Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC(exp. 4)RS) campaign. RSP retrieved cloud heights are evaluated using collocated data from the Cloud Physics Lidar (CPL). The method's accuracy associated with the magnitude of correlation, optical thickness, cloud thickness and cloud height are explored. The technique is applied to measurements at a wavelength of 670 nm and 1880 nm and their combination. The 1880-nm band is virtually insensitive to the lower troposphere due to strong water vapor absorption.
    Keywords: Meteorology and Climatology; Statistics and Probability; Earth Resources and Remote Sensing
    Type: GSFC-E-DAA-TN44330 , Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (ISSN 1867-1381) (e-ISSN 1867-8548); 10; 6; 2361-2375
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