Comparing Satellite- and Ground-Based Observations of Cloud Occurrence Over High Southern Latitudes

Cameron McErlich, Adrian McDonald, Alex Schuddeboom, Israel Silber

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13 Scopus citations


The 2B-CLDCLASS-LIDAR R05 (2BCL5) and the raDAR/liDAR (DARDAR) satellite retrievals of cloud occurrence are compared as a function of altitude and latitude. The largest disparities are observed at low altitudes over high southern latitudes. These data sets are cross referenced to ground-based measurements from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) West Antarctic Radiation Experiment (AWARE) campaign at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Compared with AWARE observations, both 2BCL5 and DARDAR underestimate cloud occurrence below 1.5 km, with 2BCL5 and DARDAR distinguishing roughly one third of cloud occurrences observed by AWARE at 0.5 km. While DARDAR identifies greater cloud occurrences than 2BCL5 below 1.5 km, cloud occurrence values for the two data sets have similar differences relative to ground-based measurements. Therefore, the DARDAR retrievals of greater cloud occurrence at low altitudes are likely due to a larger quantity of false positives associated with radar ground clutter or attenuated lidar retrievals. DARDAR cloud occurrences match better with AWARE than 2BCL5 above 5 km. However, the likely underestimation of ground-based measurements at higher altitudes suggests DARDAR may underestimate high level cloud occurrence. Finally, both data sets indicate the presence of liquid containing clouds at temperatures within the homogeneous freezing regime, despite the fact that the ECMWF-AUX data set implemented in their processing clearly indicates temperatures below −38°C. Using AWARE radiosonde (ECMWF-AUX) temperature data, we find that 2BCL5 detects 13.3% (13.8%) of mixed phase clouds below −38°C, while DARDAR detects 5.7% (6.6%) of mixed phase and 1.1% (1.3%) of liquid phase clouds below −38°C.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020JD033607
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 27 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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