Infrared radiative properties of the Antarctic plateau from AVHRR data. Part I: Effect of the snow surface

Berque, J, Lubin D, Somerville RCJ.  2004.  Infrared radiative properties of the Antarctic plateau from AVHRR data. Part I: Effect of the snow surface. Journal of Applied Meteorology. 43:350-362.

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absorption, bidirectional reflectance, cirrus clouds, cloud properties, effective, greenland ice-sheet, model, optical-properties, radius, single-scattering, spectral albedo


The effective scene temperature, or "brightness temperature," measured in channel 3 (3.5-3.9 m m) of the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) is shown to be sensitive, in principle, to the effective particle size of snow grains on the Antarctic plateau, over the range of snow grain sizes reported in field studies. In conjunction with a discrete ordinate method radiative transfer model that couples the polar atmosphere with a scattering and absorbing snowpack, the thermal infrared channels of the AVHRR instrument can, therefore, be used to estimate effective grain size at the snow surface over Antarctica. This is subject to uncertainties related to the modeled top-of-atmosphere bidirectional reflectance distribution function resulting from the possible presence of sastrugi and to lack of complete knowledge of snow crystal shapes and habits as they influence the scattering phase function. However, when applied to NOAA-11 and NOAA-12 AVHRR data from 1992, the snow grain effective radii of order 50 mum are retrieved, consistent with field observations, with no apparent discontinuity between two spacecraft having different viewing geometries. Retrieved snow grain effective radii are 10-20-mum larger when the snow grains are modeled as hexagonal solid columns rather than as spheres with a Henyey-Greenstein phase function. Despite the above-mentioned uncertainties, the retrievals are consistent enough that one should be able to monitor climatically significant changes in surface snow grain size due to major precipitation events. It is also shown that a realistic representation of the surface snow grain size is critical when retrieving the optical depth and effective particle radius of clouds for the optically thin clouds most frequently encountered over the Antarctic plateau.