Articles | Volume 8, issue 1
12 May 2016
 | 12 May 2016

A synthetic data set of high-spectral-resolution infrared spectra for the Arctic atmosphere

Christopher J. Cox, Penny M. Rowe, Steven P. Neshyba, and Von P. Walden

Abstract. Cloud microphysical and macrophysical properties are critical for understanding the role of clouds in climate. These properties are commonly retrieved from ground-based and satellite-based infrared remote sensing instruments. However, retrieval uncertainties are difficult to quantify without a standard for comparison. This is particularly true over the polar regions, where surface-based data for a cloud climatology are sparse, yet clouds represent a major source of uncertainty in weather and climate models. We describe a synthetic high-spectral-resolution infrared data set that is designed to facilitate validation and development of cloud retrieval algorithms for surface- and satellite-based remote sensing instruments. Since the data set is calculated using pre-defined cloudy atmospheres, the properties of the cloud and atmospheric state are known a priori. The atmospheric state used for the simulations is drawn from radiosonde measurements made at the North Slope of Alaska (NSA) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) site at Barrow, Alaska (71.325° N, 156.615° W), a location that is generally representative of the western Arctic. The cloud properties for each simulation are selected from statistical distributions derived from past field measurements. Upwelling (at 60 km) and downwelling (at the surface) infrared spectra are simulated for 260 cloudy cases from 50 to 3000 cm−1 (3.3 to 200 µm) at monochromatic (line-by-line) resolution at a spacing of  ∼  0.01 cm−1 using the Line-by-line Radiative Transfer Model (LBLRTM) and the discrete-ordinate-method radiative transfer code (DISORT). These spectra are freely available for interested researchers from the NSF Arctic Data Center data repository (doi:10.5065/D61J97TT).

Short summary
Observations of cloud properties are necessary to understand and model clouds. Observations are frequently retrieved using remotely sensed measurements of infrared cloud emission. To support development and validation of the retrieval algorithms, this work produced a synthetic high-spectral-resolution infrared data set based on atmospheric conditions typical of the Arctic. Advantages of the data set include a priori knowledge of cloud properties and control over measurement uncertainties.