Application of Deep Convective Cloud Albedo Observation to Satellite-Based Study of the Terrestrial Atmosphere: Monitoring the Stability of Spaceborne Measurements and Assessing Absorption Anomaly Academic Article uri icon


  • An objective method is developed to monitor the stability of spaceborne instruments, aimed at distinguishing climate trend from instrument drift in satellite-based climate observation records. This method is based on four-years of Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) broadband observations of deep convective cloud systems with cloud-top temperature lower than 205 K and with large optical depths. The implementation of this method to the CERES instrument stability analysis reveals that the monthly albedo distributions are practically the same for deep convective clouds with CERES measurements acquired from both the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission and Terra satellite platforms, indicating that CERES instruments are well calibrated and stable during both missions. Furthermore, with a nonlinear regression neural network narrowband-broadband conversion, this instrument-stability monitoring method can also be applied to narrowband instruments such as the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and the Visible Infrared Scanner (MRS). The results show that the drifts associated with both VIRS and MODIS instruments are less than 1% during a four-year period. Since the CERES albedo measurements are highly accurate, the absorptance of these opaque clouds can be reliably estimated. The absorptions of these clouds from observations are around 25%, whereas the absorptions from theory can be as low as 18%, depending on ice cloud microphysics.

author list (cited authors)

  • Hu, Y., Wielicki, B. A., Yang, P., Stackhouse, P. W., Lin, B., & Young, D. F.

citation count

  • 57

publication date

  • November 2004