CERES cloud properties derived from multispectral VIRS data

Patrick Minnis, David F. Young, Bruce A. Wielicki, Patrick W. Heck, Xiquan Dong, Larry L. Stowe, Ronald Welch

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The Clouds and Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) experiment, the first satellite project devoted to monitoring cloud macrophysical and microphysical properties simultaneously with the broadband radiation field, is designed to dramatically improve our understanding of the relationship between clouds and the Earth's radiation budget. The first CERES instruments flow on the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite between 35°N and 35°S with the Visible Infrared Scanner (VIRS), a 2-km resolution imager with five channels: 0.65, 1.6, 3.75, 10.8, and 12 μm beginning in January 1998. Cloud amount, height, temperature, phase, effective particle size, and water path are derived from the VIRS radiances and validated using surface radar and lidar data. Droplet radii are largest over ocean and smallest over land. Mean droplet radius is larger than that from earlier studies. The mean ice diameter is 61 μm. Variations of cloud parameters with temperature and viewing and solar zenith angle are given. Surface observations of liquid water path and droplet size agree well with the VIRS retrievals. This is the first analysis of cloud microphysical properties coveting all times of day using all available pixels and viewing angles for half of the globe. Seasonal and diurnal variations of the cloud properties are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-102
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 1999
EventProceedings of the 1999 Satellite Remote Sensing of Clouds and the Atmosphere IV - Florence, Italy
Duration: Sep 20 1999Sep 22 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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