Articles | Volume 10, issue 14
22 Jul 2010
 | 22 Jul 2010

Tomographic retrieval of cloud liquid water fields from a single scanning microwave radiometer aboard a moving platform – Part 2: Observation system simulation experiments

D. Huang, A. Gasiewski, and W. Wiscombe

Abstract. Part 1 of this research concluded that many conditions of the 2003 Wakasa Bay experiment were not optimal for the purpose of tomographic retrieval. Part 2 (this paper) then aims to find possible improvements to the mobile cloud tomography method using observation system simulation experiments. We demonstrate that the incorporation of the L1 norm total variation regularization in the tomographic retrieval algorithm better reproduces discontinuous structures than the widely used L2 norm Tikhonov regularization. The simulation experiments reveal that a typical ground-based mobile setup substantially outperforms an airborne one because the ground-based setup usually moves slower and has greater contrast in microwave brightness between clouds and the background. It is shown that, as expected, the error in the cloud tomography retrievals increases monotonically with both the radiometer noise level and the uncertainty in the estimate of background brightness temperature. It is also revealed that a lower speed of platform motion or a faster scanning radiometer results in more scan cycles and more overlap between the swaths of successive scan cycles, both of which help to improve the retrieval accuracy. The last factor examined is aircraft height. It is found that the optimal aircraft height is 0.5 to 1.0 km above the cloud top. To summarize, this research demonstrates the feasibility of tomographically retrieving the spatial structure of cloud liquid water using current microwave radiometric technology and provides several general guidelines to improve future field-based studies of cloud tomography.

Final-revised paper