Latest Resources




  • Upper tropospheric cloud systems derived from IR sounders: properties of cirrus anvils in the tropics
    Representing about 30 % of the Earth's total cloud cover, upper tropospheric clouds play a crucial role in the climate system by modulating the Earth's energy budget and heat transport. When originating from convection, they often form organized systems. The high spectral resolution of the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) allows reliable cirrus identification, both from day and nighttime observations. Tropical upper tropospheric cloud systems have been analyzed by using a spatial composite technique on the retrieved cloud pressure of AIRS data. Cloud emissivity is used to distinguish convective core, cirrus and thin cirrus anvil within these systems. A comparison with simultaneous precipitation data from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer – Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) shows that, for tropical upper tropospheric clouds, a cloud emissivity close to 1 is strongly linked to a high rain rate, leading to a proxy to identify convective cores. Combining AIRS cloud data with this cloud system approach, using physical variables, provides a new opportunity to relate the properties of the anvils, including also the thinner cirrus, to the convective cores. It also distinguishes convective cloud systems from isolated cirrus systems. Deep convective cloud systems, covering 15 % of the tropics, are further distinguished into single-core and multi-core systems. Though AIRS samples the tropics only twice per day, the evolution of longer-living convective systems can be still statistically captured, and we were able to select relatively mature single-core convective systems by using the fraction of convective core area within the cloud systems as a proxy for maturity. For these systems, we have demonstrated that the physical properties of the anvils are related to convective depth, indicated by the minimum retrieved cloud temperature within the convective core. Our analyses show that the size of the systems does in general increase with convective depth, though for similar convective depth oceanic convective cloud systems are slightly larger than continental ones, in agreement with other observations. In addition, our data reveal for the first time that the fraction of thin cirrus over the total anvil area increases with the convective depth similarly for oceanic and continental convective systems. This has implications for the radiative feedbacks of anvils on convection which will be more closely studied in the future. more
  • An agricultural biomass burning episode in eastern China: Transport, optical properties, and impacts on regional air quality
    Agricultural biomass burning (ABB) has been of particular concern due to its influence on air quality and atmospheric radiation, as it produces large amounts of gaseous and aerosol emissions. This paper presents an integrated observation of a significant ABB episode in Nanjing, China, during early June 2011, using combined ground-based and satellite sensors (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, Atmospheric Infrared Sounder, Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO), and Ozone Monitoring Instrument products). The time-height distribution, optical properties, sources and transport of smoke, and its impacts on air quality are investigated. Lidar profiles indicate that the smoke aerosols are confined to the planetary boundary layer (PBL) and have a depolarization ratio of less than 0.08. The aerosol optical depths increase from 0.5 to 3.0 at 500 nm, while the extinction-related Angstrom exponent increases from 1.1 to 1.6 at the wavelength pair of 440–870 nm. The single-scattering albedo becomes lower at 670–1020 nm following the ABB intrusion and particularly shows a decreasing tendency between wavelengths of 440 to 1020 nm. The absorption Angstrom exponent (0.7) is smaller than 1.0, which may indicate the aged smoke particles mixed or coated with the urban aerosols. Surface particular matter PM10 and PM2.5 show a dramatic increase, reaching hourly mean of 800 µg/m3 and 485 µg/m3, respectively, which results in a heavy air pollution event. The stagnant and high-moisture weather provides favorable conditions for the aerosols to accumulate near the surface. Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) also illustrate that the large-scale aerosols are primarily present in the PBL and transported to the ocean, but some dense smoke plumes are misclassified as cloud or polluted dust. By comparing with the observations, we found that the Weather Research and Forecasting–Chemistry model captured the accumulation and downwind transport of surface PM2.5 from 20:00 on 2 June to 10:00 on 3 June (phase 1) but showed a dramatic underestimate from 20:00 on 3–4 June (phase 2) when dense aerosols are present. Such a discrepancy in the model is associated with the improper vertical apportion of transported smoke and atmospheric diffusion conditions when comparing with the observed aerosol and wind profiles. In addition, the model simulations indicate that the transported smoke can contribute to 50–70% of the ground-level PM2.5 in Nanjing. more
  • Tropospheric dry layers in the tropical western Pacific: comparisons of GPS radio occultation with multiple data sets
    We use GPS radio occultation (RO) data to investigate the structure and temporal behavior of extremely dry, high-ozone tropospheric air in the tropical western Pacific during the 6-week period of the CONTRAST (CONvective TRansport of Active Species in the Tropics) experiment (January and February 2014). Our analyses are aimed at testing whether the RO method is capable of detecting these extremely dry layers and evaluating comparisons with in situ measurements, satellite observations, and model analyses. We use multiple data sources as comparisons, including CONTRAST research aircraft profiles, radiosonde profiles, AIRS (Atmospheric Infrared Sounder) satellite retrievals, and profiles extracted from the ERA (ERA-Interim reanalysis) and the GFS (US National Weather Service Global Forecast System) analyses, as well as MTSAT-2 satellite images. The independent and complementary radiosonde, aircraft, and RO data provide high vertical resolution observations of the dry layers. However, they all have limitations. The coverage of the radiosonde data is limited by having only a single station in this oceanic region; the aircraft data are limited in their temporal and spatial coverage; and the RO data are limited in their number and horizontal resolution over this period. However, nearby observations from the three types of data are highly consistent with each other and with the lower-vertical-resolution AIRS profiles. They are also consistent with the ERA and GFS data. We show that the RO data, used here for the first time to study this phenomenon, contribute significant information on the water vapor content and are capable of detecting layers in the tropics and subtropics with extremely low humidity (less than 10 %), independent of the retrieval used to extract moisture information. Our results also verify the quality of the ERA and GFS data sets, giving confidence to the reanalyses and their use in diagnosing the full four-dimensional structure of the dry layers. more
  • Increased atmospheric ammonia over the world's major agricultural areas detected from space
    This study provides evidence of substantial increases in atmospheric ammonia (NH3) concentrations (14 year) over several of the worlds major agricultural regions, using recently available retrievals from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) aboard NASA's Aqua satellite. The main sources of atmospheric NH3 are farming and animal husbandry involving reactive nitrogen ultimately derived from fertilizer use; rates of emission are also sensitive to climate change. Significant increasing trends are seen over the U.S. (2.61% yr−1), the European Union (EU) (1.83% yr−1), and China (2.27% yr−1). Over the EU, the trend results from decreased scavenging by acid aerosols. Over the U.S., the increase results from a combination of decreased chemical loss and increased soil temperatures. Over China, decreased chemical loss, increasing temperatures, and increased fertilizer use all play a role. Over South Asia, increased NH3 emissions are masked by increased SO2 and NOx emissions, leading to increased aerosol loading and adverse health effects. more