The Impact of Caliop Aerosol Profiling: How Z Influences the X, Y Satellite Perspective

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 4:15 PM
James R Campbell, Naval Research Laboratory, Marine Meteorology Division, Monterey, CA, United States, Ricardo Alfaro-Contreras, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND, United States, Virginie Buchard, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States, Travis D Toth, Univ of ND--Atmospheric Scies, Grand Forks, ND, United States, Mark Vaughan, NASA, Hampton, VA, United States and Jianglong Zhang, U of N Dakota-Atmos Sciences, Grand Forks, ND, United States
The ever-burgeoning satellite remote sensing era has significantly improved our understanding of the role aerosol particles play in the earth-atmosphere system. Instruments such as MODIS, MISR, OMI, AVHRR, and now VIIRS, among others, are meeting a growing number of observational demands necessary for characterizing aerosol particle influence, on processes such as surface air quality, direct and semi-direct forcing and cloud indirect effects. While these passive sensors have grown to represent the community’s fundamental global aerosol observing core, their datasets represent, almost exclusively, a column-integrated view of atmospheric aerosols. In contrast, however, aerosol-climate interaction is inherently sensitive to the vertical distribution of aerosol particle presence.

Though the CALIOP instrument, with its relatively limited profiling swath, offers a much smaller observational scale compared with passive imagers, active-sensor aerosol profiling is increasingly adding the necessary vertical perspective required to challenge and fully characterize what has become a predominant two-dimensional global perception of aerosols. In this talk, we highlight the impact of CALIOP-based profiling, and describe how the critical third dimension is contributing to this knowledge. We introduce aerosol scale-heights and the contribution of near-surface particle presence relative to column-integrated aerosol optical depths. We describe the impact of particle profile diffusivity relative to passive-based estimates of surface air quality. The impact of accurate vertical profiling in global modeling systems is conceptualized, through benefits to downwind forecasting from accurate initialization. Sensitivities in semi-direct regional heating rate estimates are shown as a function of model-constrained aerosol vertical profiling. Finally, we highlight perhaps the most important CALIOP observation of all, relative to the passive sensors: the presence of optically-thin cirrus clouds. We describe the sensitivity in passive estimates of direct aerosol forcing based on active cloud-clearing.