Lessons Learned from the Updated GEWEX Cloud Assessment Database

Claudia J. Stubenrauch, Stefan Kinne, Giulio Mandorli, William B. Rossow, David M. Winker, Steven A. Ackerman, Helene Chepfer, Larry Di Girolamo, Anne Garnier, Andrew Heidinger, Karl Göran Karlsson, Kerry Meyer, Patrick Minnis, Steven Platnick, Martin Stengel, Szedung Sun-Mack, Paolo Veglio, Andi Walther, Xia Cai, Alisa H. YoungGuangyu Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since the first Global Energy and Water Exchanges cloud assessment a decade ago, existing cloud property retrievals have been revised and new retrievals have been developed. The new global long-term cloud datasets show, in general, similar results to those of the previous assessment. A notable exception is the reduced cloud amount provided by the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) Science Team, resulting from an improved aerosol–cloud distinction. Height, opacity and thermodynamic phase determine the radiative effect of clouds. Their distributions as well as relative occurrences of cloud types distinguished by height and optical depth are discussed. The similar results of the two assessments indicate that further improvement, in particular on vertical cloud layering, can only be achieved by combining complementary information. We suggest such combination methods to estimate the amount of all clouds within the atmospheric column, including those hidden by clouds aloft. The results compare well with those from CloudSat-CALIPSO radar–lidar geometrical profiles as well as with results from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) corrected by the cloud vertical layer model, which is used for the computation of the ISCCP-derived radiative fluxes. Furthermore, we highlight studies on cloud monitoring using the information from the histograms of the database and give guidelines for: (1) the use of satellite-retrieved cloud properties in climate studies and climate model evaluation and (2) improved retrieval strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSurveys in Geophysics
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Atmosphere
  • Cloud cover
  • Cloud height
  • Cloud radiative properties
  • Cloud types
  • Microphysical properties
  • Satellite remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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