Bulk microphysical properties of semi-transparent cirrus from AIRS: a six year global climatology and statistical analysis in synergy with geometrical profiling data from CloudSat-CALIPSO
Abstract. This article presents a retrieval method and a statistical analysis of the bulk microphysical properties of semi-transparent ice clouds using the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS). The method relies on spectral differences of cirrus emissivities in the 8–12 μm range and is sensitive to the effective ice crystal diameter (De) and ice water path (IWP) of up to 85 μm and 120 g m−2, respectively. An indication of the most frequent ice crystal habit in the cirrus has been obtained by using separately single scattering properties of column-like and aggregate-like ice crystals in the simulations. Uncertainties due to hypotheses on atmospheric parameters and ice crystal single scattering properties are discussed and the cirrus emissivity and temperature range for the applicability of the method are determined. To be sure that the cirrus only includes ice crystals, one has to restrict the cloud temperature range to Tcld<230 K. On a global scale, these semi-transparent ice clouds (cirrus) represent about 25% of all high clouds and are mainly encountered in the midlatitudes during winter and in the tropics, with an average De and IWP of 52 μm and 27 g m−2, respectively. A comparison with bulk microphysical properties from the TIROS-N Operational Vertical Sounder (TOVS) shows an agreement on global mean values. The addition of spectral information revealed improvements at the limits of the cirrus emissivity range. Collocated Radar-Lidar Geometrical Profiling (GEOPROF) data have been used to study the vertical structure of these clouds and to infer average ice water content (IWC) for cirrus with a small vertical extent. This allowed us to compare and contrast parameterizations of De as functions of IWC and IWP, respectively.