Using two-stream theory to capture fluctuations of satellite-perceived TOA SW radiances reflected from clouds over ocean Academic Article uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • Abstract. Shortwave (SW) fluxes estimated from broadband radiometry rely on empirically gathered and hemispherically resolved fields of outgoing top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiances. This study aims to provide more accurate and precise fields of TOA SW radiances reflected from clouds over ocean by introducing a novel semiphysical model predicting radiances per narrow sun-observer geometry. This model was statistically trained using CERES-measured radiances paired with MODIS-retrieved cloud parameters as well as reanalysis-based geophysical parameters. By using radiative transfer approximations as a framework to ingest the above parameters, the new approach incorporates cloud-top effective radius and above-cloud water vapor in addition to traditionally used cloud optical depth, cloud fraction, cloud phase, and surface wind speed. A two-stream cloud albedo – serving to statistically incorporate cloud optical thickness and cloud-top effective radius – and Cox–Munk ocean reflectance were used to describe an albedo over each CERES footprint. Effective-radius-dependent asymmetry parameters were obtained empirically and separately for each viewing-illumination geometry. A simple equation of radiative transfer, with this albedo and attenuating above-cloud water vapor as inputs, was used in its log-linear form to allow for statistical optimization. We identified the two-stream functional form that minimized radiance residuals calculated against CERES observations and outperformed the state-of-the-art approach for most observer geometries outside the sun-glint and solar zenith angles between 20 and 70∘, reducing the median SD of radiance residuals per solar geometry by up to 13.2 % for liquid clouds, 1.9 % for ice clouds, and 35.8 % for footprints containing both cloud phases. Geometries affected by sun glint (constituting between 10 % and 1 % of the discretized upward hemisphere for solar zenith angles of 20 and 70∘, respectively), however, often showed weaker performance when handled with the new approach and had increased residuals by as much as 60 % compared to the state-of-the-art approach. Overall, uncertainties were reduced for liquid-phase and mixed-phase footprints by 5.76 % and 10.81 %, respectively, while uncertainties for ice-phase footprints increased by 0.34 %. Tested for a variety of scenes, we further demonstrated the plausibility of scene-wise predicted radiance fields. This new approach may prove useful when employed in angular distribution models and may result in improved flux estimates, in particular dealing with clouds characterized by small or large droplet/crystal sizes.


  • Tornow, Florian
  • Domenech, Carlos
  • Barker, Howard
  • Preusker, René
  • Fischer, Jürgen

publication date

  • July 21, 2020