Remote sensing of water cloud droplet size distributions using the backscatter glory: a case study
1Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- and Raumfahrt (DLR), Oberpfaffenhofen, 82234 Wessling, Germany
2Institut für Weltraumwissenschaften, Freie Universität Berlin, Carl-Heinrich-Becker Weg 6–10, 12165 Berlin, Germany
3ESA, European Space & Technology Centre (ESTEC), Keplerlaan 1, Postbus 299, 2200 AG Noordwijk, The Netherlands
Abstract. Cloud single scattering properties are mainly determined by the effective radius of the droplet size distribution. There are only few exceptions where the shape of the size distribution affects the optical properties, in particular the rainbow and the glory directions of the scattering phase function. Using observations by the Compact Airborne Spectrographic Imager (CASI) in 180° backscatter geometry, we found that high angular resolution aircraft observations of the glory provide unique new information which is not available from traditional remote sensing techniques: Using only one single wavelength, 753 nm, we were able to determine not only optical thickness and effective radius, but also the width of the size distribution at cloud top. Applying this novel technique to the ACE-2 CLOUDYCOLUMN experiment, we found that the size distributions were much narrower than usually assumed in radiation calculations which is in agreement with in-situ observations during this campaign. While the shape of the size distribution has only little relevance for the radiative properties of clouds, it is extremely important for understanding their formation and evolution.