Comparisons of Ice Water Path in Deep Convective Systems Among Ground-Based, GOES, and CERES-MODIS Retrievals

Jingjing Tian, Xiquan Dong, Baike Xi, Patrick Minnis, William L. Smith, Sunny Sun-Mack, Mandana Thieman, Jingyu Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Retrievals of convective cloud microphysical properties based on passive satellite imagery are difficult. To help quantify their uncertainties, ice water paths (IWPs) retrieved from the NASA Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System project using Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) and Terra/Aqua MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer observations are compared with IWPs retrieved from Next-Generation Radar (NEXRAD) observations over a large domain (32°N to 40°N and 105°W to 91°W) during the 2011 Midlatitude Continental Convective Clouds Experiment field campaign. Based on comparisons of pixel-level (4 km × 4 km) daytime IWP retrievals from NEXRAD and GOES, it is found that NEXRAD- and GOES-retrieved mean IWPs are 2.03 and 1.83 kg m−2, respectively, for ice-phase cloud in thick anvil area. Their mean difference of 0.20 kg m−2 (with 95% confidence interval: 0.14–0.26 kg m−2) is within the uncertainty of NEXRAD retrievals. However, the low correlation between pixel-to-pixel comparisons indicates a large variation in GOES-retrieved IWP. For mixed-phase clouds in thick anvil areas, in addition to IWPs, total water paths (TWPs, sum of ice and liquid water path) are estimated with aid of aircraft measurements for NEXRAD retrievals and corrected using a TWP parameterization for GOES retrievals. The mean values of estimated TWPs from NEXRAD (corrected using aircraft in situ measurements) and GOES are similar. GOES and Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System-MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer-retrieved IWPs/TWPs generally do not exceed 5 kg m−2. Large differences and low correlations exist between satellite and NEXRAD retrievals in stratiform rain areas. Possible reasons for the differences between retrievals are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1708-1723
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 16 2018


  • cloud microphysics retrieval
  • deep convection
  • ice particles
  • satellite remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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