Exploring the differences in cloud properties observed by the Terra and Aqua MODIS sensors
1Marine Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
2NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
3Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA
Abstract. The aerosol-cloud interaction in different parts of the globe is examined here using multi-year statistics of remotely sensed data from two MODIS sensors aboard NASA's Terra (morning) and Aqua (afternoon) satellites. Simultaneous retrievals of aerosol loadings and cloud properties by the MODIS sensor allowed us to explore intra-diurnal variation of liquid cloud fraction (CF) and optical thickness (COT) for clean, moderately polluted and heavily polluted clouds in different seasons. Data analysis for six-years of MODIS retrievals revealed strong temporal and spatial patterns in intra-diurnal variation of cloud fraction and optical thickness over different parts of the global oceans and the land. For the vast areas of stratocumulus cloud regions, the data shows that the presence of aerosols can more than double afternoon reduction of CF and COT pointing to the possible predominance of semi-direct over the indirect effects of aerosols in stratocumulus clouds. A positive relationship between AOD and morning-to-afternoon variation of trade wind cumulus cloud cover was also found over the northern Indian Ocean, though no clear correlation between the concentration of Indo-Asian haze and intra-diurnal variation of COT was established. Over the Amazon region during wet conditions, aerosols are associated with an enhanced convective process in which morning shallow warm clouds are organized into afternoon deep convection with greater ice cloud coverage. Analysis presented here demonstrates that the new technique for exploring intra-diurnal variability in cloud properties by using the differences in data products from the two daily MODIS overpasses is capable of capturing some of the major features of morning-to-afternoon variations in cloud properties and can be used for improved understanding of aerosol radiative effects.