Benjamin Marchant - 613 Seminar Series

Cloud thermodynamic phase (ice or liquid) classification is an important first step for cloud retrievals from passive sensors such as MODIS (Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer). Because ice and liquid phase clouds have very different scattering and absorbing properties, an incorrect cloud phase decision can lead to substantial errors in the cloud optical and microphysical property products such as cloud optical thickness or effective particle radius. Furthermore, it is well-established that ice and liquid clouds have different impacts on the Earth's energy budget and hydrological cycle, thus accurately monitoring the spatial and temporal distribution of these clouds is of continued importance. For MODIS Collection 6 (C6), the shortwave-derived cloud thermodynamic phase algorithm used by the optical and microphysical property retrievals has been completely rewritten to improve the phase discrimination skill for a variety of cloudy scenes (e.g., thin/thick clouds, over ocean/land/desert/snow/ice surface, etc). To evaluate the performance of the C6 cloud phase algorithm, extensive granule-level and global comparisons have been conducted against the heritage C5 algorithm, CALIOP, and POLDER. A wholesale improvement is seen for C6 compared to C5. I will present an overview of the MODIS C6 cloud phase algorithm updates and their impacts on cloud retrieval statistics, as well as ongoing efforts to continue algorithm improvement using machine learning.