Articles | Volume 7, issue 19
10 Oct 2007
10 Oct 2007

Characterization of Polar Stratospheric Clouds with spaceborne lidar: CALIPSO and the 2006 Antarctic season

M. C. Pitts, L. W. Thomason, L. R. Poole, and D. M. Winker

Abstract. The role of polar stratospheric clouds in polar ozone loss has been well documented. The CALIPSO satellite mission offers a new opportunity to characterize PSCs on spatial and temporal scales previously impossible. A PSC detection algorithm based on a single wavelength threshold approach has been developed for CALIPSO. The method appears to accurately detect PSCs of all opacities, including tenuous clouds, with a very low rate of false positives and few missed clouds. We applied the algorithm to CALIOP data acquired during the 2006 Antarctic winter season from 13 June through 31 October. The spatial and temporal distribution of CALIPSO PSC observations is illustrated with weekly maps of PSC occurrence. The evolution of the 2006 PSC season is depicted by time series of daily PSC frequency as a function of altitude. Comparisons with "virtual" solar occultation data indicate that CALIPSO provides a different view of the PSC season than attained with previous solar occultation satellites. Measurement-based time series of PSC areal coverage and vertically-integrated PSC volume are computed from the CALIOP data. The observed area covered with PSCs is significantly smaller than would be inferred from the commonly used temperature-based proxy TNAT but is similar in magnitude to that inferred from TSTS. The potential of CALIOP measurements for investigating PSC composition is illustrated using combinations of lidar backscatter and volume depolarization for two CALIPSO PSC scenes.

Final-revised paper