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Wilcox, EM, Harshvardhan, Platnick, S (2009). Estimate of the impact of absorbing aerosol over cloud on the MODIS retrievals of cloud optical thickness and effective radius using two independent retrievals of liquid water path. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-ATMOSPHERES, 114, D05210.

Two independent satellite retrievals of cloud liquid water path (LWP) from the NASA Aqua satellite are used to diagnose the impact of absorbing biomass burning aerosol overlaying boundary-layer marine water clouds on the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) retrievals of cloud optical thickness (tau) and cloud droplet effective radius (re). In the MODIS retrieval over oceans, cloud reflectance in the 0.86-mu m and 2.13-mu m bands is used to simultaneously retrieve t and re. A low bias in the MODIS t retrieval may result from reductions in the 0.86-mm reflectance, which is only very weakly absorbed by clouds, owing to absorption by aerosols in cases where biomass burning aerosols occur above water clouds. MODIS LWP, derived from the product of the retrieved t and re, is compared with LWP ocean retrievals from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-EOS (AMSR-E), determined from cloud microwave emission that is transparent to aerosols. For the coastal Atlantic southern African region investigated in this study, a systematic difference between AMSR-E and MODIS LWP retrievals is found for stratocumulus clouds over three biomass burning months in 2005 and 2006 that is consistent with above-cloud absorbing aerosols. Biomass burning aerosol is detected using the ultraviolet aerosol index from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on the Aura satellite. The LWP difference (AMSR-E minus MODIS) increases both with increasing t and increasing OMI aerosol index. During the biomass burning season the mean LWP difference is 14 g m(-2), which is within the 15-20 g m(-2) range of estimated uncertainties in instantaneous LWP retrievals. For samples with only low amounts of overlaying smoke (OMI AI <= 1) the difference is 9.4, suggesting that the impact of smoke aerosols on the mean MODIS LWP is 5.6 g m(-2). Only for scenes with OMI aerosol index greater than 2 does the average LWP difference and the estimated bias in MODIS cloud optical thickness attributable to the impact of overlaying biomass burning aerosol exceed the instantaneous uncertainty in the retrievals.



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