Regional Biases in MODIS Marine Liquid Water Cloud Drop Effective Radius Deduced Through Fusion With MISR

Dongwei Fu, Larry Di Girolamo, Lusheng Liang, Guangyu Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Satellite measurements from Terra's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) represent our longest, single-platform, global record of the effective radius (Re) of the cloud drop size distribution. Quantifying its error characteristics has been challenging because systematic errors in retrieved Re covary with the structural characteristics of the cloud and the Sun-view geometry. Recently, it has been shown that the bias in MODIS Re can be estimated by fusing MODIS data with data from Terra's Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR). Here, we relate the bias to the observed underlying conditions to derive regional-scale, bias-corrected, monthly-mean Re1.6, Re2.1, and Re3.7 values retrieved from the 1.6, 2.1, and 3.7 μm MODIS spectral channels. Our results reveal that monthly-mean bias in Re2.1 exhibits large regional dependency, ranging from at least ~1 to 10 μm (15 to 60%) varying with scene heterogeneity, optical depth, and solar zenith angle. Regional bias-corrected monthly-mean Re2.1 ranges from 4 to 17 μm, compared to 10 to 25 μm for uncorrected Re2.1, with estimated uncertainties of 0.1 to 1.8 μm. The bias-corrected monthly-mean Re3.7 and Re2.1 show difference of approximately +0.6 μm in the coastal marine stratocumulus regions and down to approximately −2 μm in the cumuliform cloud regions, compared to uncorrected values of about −1 to −6 μm, respectively. Bias-corrected Re values compare favorably to other independent data sources, including field observations, global model simulations, and satellite retrievals that do not use retrieval techniques similar to MODIS. This work changes the interpretation of global Re distributions from MODIS Re products and may further impact studies, which use the original MODIS Re products to study, for example, aerosol-cloud interactions and cloud microphysical parameterization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13182-13196
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 16 2019


  • MISR
  • bias-correction
  • data fusion
  • effective radius
  • liquid clouds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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