Intercomparisons of marine boundary layer cloud properties from the ARM CAP-MBL campaign and two MODIS cloud products

Zhibo Zhang, Xiquan Dong, Baike Xi, Hua Song, Po Lun Ma, Steven J. Ghan, Steven Platnick, Patrick Minnis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


From April 2009 to December 2010, the Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program carried out an observational field campaign on Graciosa Island, targeting the marine boundary layer (MBL) clouds over the Azores region. In this paper, we present an intercomparison of the MBL cloud properties, namely, cloud liquid water path (LWP), cloud optical thickness (COT), and cloud-droplet effective radius (CER), among retrievals from the ARM mobile facility and two Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) cloud products (Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)-MODIS and Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System-MODIS). A total of 63 daytime single-layer MBL cloud cases are selected for intercomparison. Comparison of collocated retrievals indicates that the two MODIS cloud products agree well on both COT and CER retrievals, with the correlation coefficient R>0.95, despite their significant difference in spatial sampling. In both MODIS products, the CER retrievals based on the 2.1 µm band (CER2.1) are significantly larger than those based on the 3.7 µm band (CER3.7). The GSFC-MODIS cloud product is collocated and compared with ground-based ARM observations at several temporal-spatial scales. In general, the correlation increases with more precise collocation. For the 63 selected MBL cloud cases, the GSFC-MODIS LWP and COT retrievals agree reasonably well with the ground-based observations with no apparent bias and correlation coefficient R around 0.85 and 0.70, respectively. However, GSFC-MODIS CER3.7 and CER2.1 retrievals have a lower correlation (R ~ 0.5) with the ground-based retrievals. For the 63 selected cases, they are on average larger than ground observations by about 1.5 µm and 3.0 µm, respectively. Taking into account that the MODIS CER retrievals are only sensitive to cloud top reduces the bias only by 0.5 µm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2351-2365
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of geophysical research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 27 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


Dive into the research topics of 'Intercomparisons of marine boundary layer cloud properties from the ARM CAP-MBL campaign and two MODIS cloud products'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this