Airborne verification of CALIPSO products over the Amazon: a case study of daytime observations in a complex atmospheric scene
A daytime underflight of CALIPSO with the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements was performed on 20 September 2012 in the Amazon region of Brazil, during the biomass burning season. The scene is dominated by a thin elevated layer (aerosol optical depth (AOD) 0.03 at 532 nm) and a moderately turbid boundary layer (AOD ~ 0.2 at 532 nm). The boundary layer is topped with small broken stratocumulus clouds. In this complex scene, a comparison of observations from the airborne and spaceborne lidars reveals a few discrepancies. The CALIPSO detection scheme tends to miss the elevated thin layer, and also shows several gaps (~ 30%) in the boundary layer. The small clouds are not correctly removed from the signals; this can cause the CALIPSO aerosol subtype to oscillate between smoke and polluted dust and may introduce distortion in the aerosol retrieval scheme. The magnitude of the average extinction coefficient estimated from CALIPSO Level 2 data in the boundary layer is as expected, when compared to the aircraft lidar and accounting for wavelength scaling. However, when the gaps in aerosol detection mentioned above are accounted for, we are left with an overall estimate of AOD for this particular scene that is of the order of two thirds of that determined with the airborne lidar.