Impact of cirrus clouds heterogeneities on top-of-atmosphere thermal infrared radiation
Abstract. This paper presents a study of the impact of cirrus cloud heterogeneities on the thermal infrared brightness temperatures at the top of the atmosphere (TOA). Realistic 3-D cirri are generated by a cloud generator based on simplified thermodynamic and dynamic equations and on the control of invariant scale properties. The 3-D thermal infrared radiative transfer is simulated with a Monte Carlo model for three typical spectral bands in the infrared atmospheric window. Comparisons of TOA brightness temperatures resulting from 1-D and 3-D radiative transfer show significant differences for optically thick cirrus (τ > 0.3 at 532 nm) and are mainly due to the plane-parallel approximation (PPA). At the spatial resolution of 1 km × 1 km, two principal parameters control the heterogeneity effects on brightness temperatures: i) the optical thickness standard deviation inside the observation pixel, ii) the brightness temperature contrast between the top of the cirrus~and the clear-sky atmosphere. Furthermore, we show that the difference between 1-D and 3-D brightness temperatures increases with the zenith view angle from two to ten times between 0° and 60° due to the tilted independent pixel approximation (TIPA).