Overview of New Cloud Optical Properties in Air Force Weather Worldwide Merged Cloud Analysis

Author: Mark D. Conner
February 4, 2014
94th AMS Annual Meeting 2014

Air Force Weather (AFW) has documented requirements for real-time cloud analysis to support DoD missions around the world. To meet these needs, AFW utilizes the Cloud Depiction and Forecast System (CDFS) II system to develop an hourly cloud analysis. The system creates cloud masks at pixel level from 16 different satellite sources, diagnoses cloud layers, reconciles the pixel level data to a regular grid by instrument class, and optimally merges the various instrument classes to create a final multi-satellite analysis.

In Jan, 2013, Northrop Grumman Corp. delivered a new CDFS II baseline which included the addition of new Atmospheric and Environmental Research Inc (AER) developed Cloud Optical Property (COP) variables in the analysis. The new variables include phase (ice/water), optical depth, ice/water path, and particle size. In addition, the COP schemes have radically changed the derivation of cloud properties like cloud top height and thickness. The Northrop-developed CDFS II Test Bed was used to examine and characterize the behavior of these new variables in order to understand how the variables are performing, especially between instrument classes. Understanding this behavior allows performance tuning and uncertainty estimation which will assist users seeking to reason with the data and will be necessary for use in model development and climatology development.

This presentation will provide a basic overview of the CDFS II produced COP variables and show results from experiments conducted on the CDFS II Testbed. Results will include a basic comparison of COP derived using different instrument classes as well as comparison between pixel level and derived gridded products with an eye towards better characterization of uncertainty.