Hutchison, KD, Hauss, B, Iisager, BD, Agravante, H, Mahoney, R, Sei, A, Jackson, JM (2010). Differentiating between Clouds and Heavy Aerosols in Sun-Glint Regions. JOURNAL OF ATMOSPHERIC AND OCEANIC TECHNOLOGY, 27(6), 1085-1094.
An approach is presented to distinguish between clouds and heavy aerosols in sun-glint regions with automated cloud classification algorithms developed for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) program. The approach extends the applicability of an algorithm that has already been applied successfully in areas outside the geometric and wind-induced sun-glint areas of the earth over both land and water surfaces. The successful application of this approach to include sun-glint regions requires an accurate cloud phase analysis, which can be degraded, especially in regions of sun glint, because of poorly calibrated radiances of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor. Consequently, procedures have been developed to replace bad MODIS level 1B (L1B) data, which may result from saturation, dead/noisy detectors, or data dropouts, with radiometrically reliable values to create the Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) proxy sensor data records (SDRs). Cloud phase analyses produced by the NPOESS VIIRS cloud mask (VCM) algorithm using these modified VIIRS proxy SDRs show excellent agreement with features observed in color composites of MODIS imagery. In addition, the improved logic in the VCM algorithm provides a new capability to differentiate between clouds and heavy aerosols within the sun-glint cone. This ability to differentiate between clouds and heavy aerosols in strong sunglint regions is demonstrated using MODIS data collected during the recent fires that burned extensive areas in southern Australia. Comparisons between heavy aerosols identified by the VCM algorithm with imagery and heritage data products show the effectiveness of the new procedures using the modified VIIRS proxy SDRs. It is concluded that it is feasible to accurately detect clouds, identify cloud phase, and distinguish between clouds and heavy aerosol using a single cloud mask algorithm, even in extensive sun-glint regions.