Cloud products from the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC): algorithms and initial evaluation
This paper presents the physical basis of the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) cloud product algorithms and an initial evaluation of their performance. Since June 2015, EPIC has been providing observations of the sunlit side of the Earth with its 10 spectral channels ranging from the UV to the near-infrared. A suite of algorithms has been developed to generate the standard EPIC Level 2 cloud products that include cloud mask, cloud effective pressure/height, and cloud optical thickness. The EPIC cloud mask adopts the threshold method and utilizes multichannel observations and ratios as tests. Cloud effective pressure/height is derived with observations from the O2 A-band (780 and 764 nm) and B-band (680 and 688 nm) pairs. The EPIC cloud optical thickness retrieval adopts a single-channel approach in which the 780 and 680 nm channels are used for retrievals over ocean and over land, respectively. Comparison with co-located cloud retrievals from geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) and low earth orbit (LEO) satellites shows that the EPIC cloud product algorithms are performing well and are consistent with theoretical expectations. These products are publicly available at the Atmospheric Science Data Center at the NASA Langley Research Center for climate studies and for generating other geophysical products that require cloud properties as input.