Absorption of aerosols above clouds from POLDER/PARASOL measurements and estimation of their direct radiative effect
Abstract. This study presents an original method to evaluate key parameters for the estimation of the direct radiative effect (DRE) of aerosol above clouds: the absorption of the the cloud albedo. It is based on multi-angle total and polarized radiances both provided by the A-train satellite instrument POLDER – Polarization and Directionality of Earth Reflectances. The sensitivities brought by each kind of measurements are used in a complementary way. Polarization mostly translates scattering processes and is thus used to estimate scattering aerosol optical thickness and aerosol size. On the other hand, total radiances, together with the scattering properties of aerosols, are used to evaluate the absorption optical thickness of aerosols and cloud optical thickness. The retrieval of aerosol and clouds properties (i.e., aerosol and cloud optical thickness, aerosol single scattering albedo and Ångström exponent) is restricted to homogeneous and optically thick clouds (cloud optical thickness larger than 3). In addition, a procedure has been developed to process the shortwave DRE of aerosols above clouds. Three case studies have been selected: a case of absorbing biomass burning aerosols above clouds over the southeast Atlantic Ocean, a Siberian biomass burning event and a layer of Saharan dust above clouds off the northwest coast of Africa. Besides these case studies, both algorithms have been applied to the southeast Atlantic Ocean and the results have been averaged during August 2006. The mean DRE is found to be 33.5 W m−2 (warming). Finally, the effect of the heterogeneity of clouds has been investigated and reveals that it affects mostly the retrieval of the cloud optical thickness and not greatly the aerosols properties. The homogenous cloud assumption used in both the properties retrieval and the DRE processing leads to a slight underestimation of the DRE.