Abstract

We explore ways in which high-spectral-resolution measurements can aid in the retrieval of atmospheric temperature and gas-concentration profiles from outgoing infrared spectra when optically thin cirrus clouds are present. Simulated outgoing spectra that contain cirrus are fitted with spectra that do not contain cirrus, and the residuals are examined. For those lines with weighting functions that peak near the same altitude as the thin cirrus, unique features are observed in the residuals. These unique features are highly sensitive to the resolution of the instrumental line shape. For thin cirrus these residual features are narrow (≤0.1 cm-1), so high spectral resolution is required for unambiguous observation. The magnitudes of these unique features are larger than the noise of modern instruments. The sensitivities of these features to cloud height and cloud optical depth are also discussed. Our sensitivity studies show that, when the errors in the estimation of temperature profiles are not large, the dominant contribution to the residuals is the misinterpretation of cirrus. An analysis that focuses on information content is also presented. An understanding of the magnitude of the effect and of its dependence on spectral resolution as well as on spectral region is important for retrieving spacecraft data and for the design of future infrared instruments for forecasting weather and monitoring greenhouse gases.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

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