Publication Abstracts

Lin and Rossow 1994

Lin, B., and W.B. Rossow, 1994: Observations of cloud liquid water path over oceans: Optical and microwave remote sensing methods. J. Geophys. Res., 99, 20907-20927, doi:10.1029/94JD01831.

Published estimates of cloud liquid water path (LWP) from satellite-measured microwave radiation show little agreement, even about the relative magnitudes of LWP in the tropics and midlatitudes. To understand these differences and to obtain a more reliable estimate, optical and microwave LWP retrieval methods are compared using the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) and special sensor microwave/imager (SSM/I) data. Errors in microwave LWP retrieval associated with uncertainties in surface, atmosphere, and cloud properties are assessed. Sea surface temperature may not produce great LWP errors, if accurate contemporaneous measurements are used in the retrieval. An uncertainty of estimated near-surface wind speed as high as 2 m/s produces uncertainty in LWP of 5 mg/cm2. Cloud liquid water temperature has only a small effect on LWP retrievals (rms errors < 2 mg/cm2), if errors in the temperature are < 5°C; however, such errors can produce spurious variations of LWP with latitude and season. Errors in atmospheric column water vapor (CWV) are strongly couple with errors in LWP (for some retrieval methods) causing errors as large as 30 mg/cm2. Because microwave radiation is much less sensitive to clouds with small LWP (less than 7 mg/cm2) than visible wavelength radiation, the microwave results are very sensitive to the process used to separate clear and cloudy conditions. Different cloud detection sensitivities in different microwave retrieval methods bias estimated LWP values. Comparing ISCCP and SSM/I LWPs, we find that the two estimated values are consistent in global, zonal, and regional means for warm, nonprecipitating clouds, which have average LWP values of about 5 mg/cm2 and occur much more frequently than precipitating clouds. Ice water path (IWP) can be roughly estimated from the differences between ISCCP total water path and SSM/I LWP for cold, nonprecipitating clouds. IWP in the winter hemisphere is about 3 times the LWP but only half the LWP in the summer hemisphere. Precipitating clouds contribute significantly to monthly, zonal mean LWP values determined from microwave, especially in the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), because they have almost 10 times the liquid water (cloud plus precipitation) of nonprecipitating clouds on average. There are significant differences among microwave LWP estimates associated with the treatment of precipitating clouds.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Lin, B. and Rossow, W. B.},
  title={Observations of cloud liquid water path over oceans: Optical and microwave remote sensing methods},
  journal={Journal of Geophysical Research},

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RIS Citation

ID  - li02100q
AU  - Lin, B.
AU  - Rossow, W. B.
PY  - 1994
TI  - Observations of cloud liquid water path over oceans: Optical and microwave remote sensing methods
JA  - J. Geophys. Res.
JO  - Journal of Geophysical Research
VL  - 99
SP  - 20907
EP  - 20927
DO  - 10.1029/94JD01831
ER  -

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