The MODIS Cloud Optical and Microphysical Products: Collection 6 Updates and Examples From Terra and Aqua Academic Article uri icon


  • The MODIS Level-2 cloud product (Earth Science Data Set names MOD06 and MYD06 for Terra and Aqua MODIS, respectively) provides pixel-level retrievals of cloud-top properties (day and night pressure, temperature, and height) and cloud optical properties (optical thickness, effective particle radius, and water path for both liquid water and ice cloud thermodynamic phases-daytime only). Collection 6 (C6) reprocessing of the product was completed in May 2014 and March 2015 for MODIS Aqua and Terra, respectively. Here we provide an overview of major C6 optical property algorithm changes relative to the previous Collection 5 (C5) product. Notable C6 optical and microphysical algorithm changes include: (i) new ice cloud optical property models and a more extensive cloud radiative transfer code lookup table (LUT) approach, (ii) improvement in the skill of the shortwave-derived cloud thermodynamic phase, (iii) separate cloud effective radius retrieval datasets for each spectral combination used in previous collections, (iv) separate retrievals for partly cloudy pixels and those associated with cloud edges, (v) failure metrics that provide diagnostic information for pixels having observations that fall outside the LUT solution space, and (vi) enhanced pixel-level retrieval uncertainty calculations. The C6 algorithm changes collectively can result in significant changes relative to C5, though the magnitude depends on the dataset and the pixel's retrieval location in the cloud parameter space. Example Level-2 granule and Level-3 gridded dataset differences between the two collections are shown. While the emphasis is on the suite of cloud optical property datasets, other MODIS cloud datasets are discussed when relevant.

author list (cited authors)

  • Platnick, S., Meyer, K. G., King, M. D., Wind, G., Amarasinghe, N., Marchant, B., ... Riedi, J.

citation count

  • 258

publication date

  • October 2016