Articles | Volume 9, issue 10
29 May 2009
 | 29 May 2009

Exploring the differences in cloud properties observed by the Terra and Aqua MODIS Sensors

N. Meskhidze, L. A. Remer, S. Platnick, R. Negrón Juárez, A. M. Lichtenberger, and A. R. Aiyyer

Abstract. The aerosol-cloud interaction in different parts of the globe is examined here using multi-year statistics of remotely sensed data from two MODIS sensors aboard NASA's Terra (morning) and Aqua (afternoon) satellites. Simultaneous retrievals of aerosol loadings and cloud properties by the MODIS sensor allowed us to explore morning-to-afternoon variation of liquid cloud fraction (CF) and optical thickness (COT) for clean, moderately polluted and heavily polluted clouds in different seasons. Data analysis for seven-years of MODIS retrievals revealed strong temporal and spatial patterns in morning-to-afternoon variation of cloud fraction and optical thickness over different parts of the global oceans and the land. For the vast areas of stratocumulus cloud regions, the data shows that the days with elevated aerosol abundance were also associated with enhanced afternoon reduction of CF and COT pointing to the possible reduction of the indirect climate forcing. A positive correlation between aerosol optical depth and morning-to-afternoon variation of trade wind cumulus cloud cover was also found over the northern Indian Ocean, though no clear relationship between the concentration of Indo-Asian haze and morning-to-afternoon variation of COT was established. Over the Amazon region during wet conditions, aerosols are associated with an enhanced convective process in which morning shallow warm clouds are organized into afternoon deep convection with greater ice cloud coverage. Analysis presented here demonstrates that the new technique for exploring morning-to-afternoon variability in cloud properties by using the differences in data products from the two daily MODIS overpasses is capable of capturing some of the major features of diurnal variations in cloud properties and can be used for better understanding of aerosol radiative effects.

Final-revised paper