Menzel, WP, Frey, RA, Zhang, H, Wylie, DP, Moeller, CC, Holz, RE, Maddux, B, Baum, BA, Strabala, KI, Gumley, LE (2008). MODIS global cloud-top pressure and amount estimation: Algorithm description and results. JOURNAL OF APPLIED METEOROLOGY AND CLIMATOLOGY, 47(4), 1175-1198.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer ( MODIS) on the NASA Earth Observing System (EOS) Terra and Aqua platforms provides unique measurements for deriving global and regional cloud properties. MODIS has spectral coverage combined with spatial resolution in key atmospheric bands, which is not available on previous imagers and sounders. This increased spectral coverage/spatial resolution, along with improved onboard calibration, enhances the capability for global cloud property retrievals. MODIS operational cloud products are derived globally at spatial resolutions of 5 km (referred to as level-2 products) and are aggregated to a 1 equal-angle grid (referred to as level-3 product), available for daily, 8-day, and monthly time periods. The MODIS cloud algorithm produces cloud-top pressures that are found to be within 50 hPa of lidar determinations in single-layer cloud situations. In multilayer clouds, where the upper-layer cloud is semitransparent, the MODIS cloud pressure is representative of the radiative mean between the two cloud layers. In atmospheres prone to temperature inversions, the MODIS cloud algorithm places the cloud above the inversion and hence is as much as 200 hPa off its true location. The wealth of new information available from the MODIS operational cloud products offers the promise of improved cloud climatologies. This paper 1) describes the cloud-top pressure and amount algorithm that has evolved through collection 5 as experience has been gained with in-flight data from NASA Terra and Aqua platforms; 2) compares the MODIS cloud-top pressures, converted to cloud-top heights, with similar measurements from airborne and space-based lidars; and 3) introduces global maps of MODIS and High Resolution Infrared Sounder (HIRS) cloud-top products.