Articles | Volume 15, issue 20
Research article
27 Oct 2015
Research article |  | 27 Oct 2015

A method to retrieve super-thin cloud optical depth over ocean background with polarized sunlight

W. Sun, R. R. Baize, G. Videen, Y. Hu, and Q. Fu

Abstract. In this work, an algorithm that uses the polarization angle of the backscattered solar radiation to detect clouds with optical depth (OD) < ~ 0.3 is further developed. We find that at viewing angles within ± ∼ 8° around the backscattering direction, the p-polarized intensity that is parallel to the meridian plane of reflected light from the surface is sensitive to, and nearly linearly related to, the optical depth of super-thin clouds. Moreover, our sensitivity study suggests that the p-polarized intensity at these viewing angles is not sensitive to the ocean surface conditions. Using this property of p-polarized intensity, super-thin clouds' optical depth can be retrieved.

Short summary
A method is reported for retrieving super-thin cloud optical depth with polarized light. It is found that near-backscatter p-polarized light is sensitive to clouds, but not to ocean conditions. Near-backscatter p-polarized intensity linearly relates to super-thin cloud optical depth. Based on these findings, super-thin cloud optical depth can be retrieved with little effect from surface reflection.
Final-revised paper