Qiu, JH (2006). Cloud optical thickness retrievals from ground-based pyranometer measurements. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-ATMOSPHERES, 111(D22), D22206.

A method is developed to retrieve total cloud optical thickness (COT) from global solar radiation (GSR) detected by ground-based pyranometer, and approaches to input aerosol/molecular/gas parameters for COT retrievals are presented. On the basis of numerical simulations and comparative tests, main error factors of COT retrievals are analyzed, which include radiation data error, cloud inhomogeneity, uncertainties of aerosol optical parameters, and surface albedo. The retrieved COT error, caused by a -5% or 5% systematic error of the GSR measurement, is within +/- 0.6 and +/- 5.0 for COT ranges of 0-5.0 and 5-100, respectively. The AOT, the aerosol single scatter albedo (SSA), and the surface albedo are three significant parameters affecting COT retrieval accuracy. The mean SSA in the pyranometer spectral response range and the broadband surface albedo are suitably used in the retrievals. If uncertainties of AOT, SSA, and surface albedo are within +/- 0.1, +/- 0.05, and +/- 0.05, respectively, the retrieval accuracy is accepted for most applications. Furthermore, COTs (tau(Pyr)) from pyranometer data at two meteorological observatories are compared with COTs (tau(ISCCP)) from ISCCP and COTs (tau(MODIS)) from MODIS. The relative standard deviations between monthly mean tau(Pyr) and tau(MODIS), or tau(Pyr) and tau(ISCCP), are all less than 45.4% for both sites. The agreement among the yearly mean tau(Pyr), tau(MODIS), and tau(ISCCP) is satisfactory. The absolute (relative) deviations between the yearly mean tau(Pyr) and tau(MODIS) are within +/- 1.55 (8%) for both sites, and the deviations between the tau(Pyr) and tau(ISCCP) are within +/- 1.94 (25%). The yearly mean tau(Pyr) also agrees considerably well with tau(ISCCP) in the broken cloud case.