A climatology of polar stratospheric cloud composition between 2002 and 2012 based on MIPAS/Envisat observations
The Michelson Interferometer for Passive Atmospheric Sounding (MIPAS) instrument aboard the European Space Agency (ESA) Envisat satellite operated from July 2002 to April 2012. The infrared limb emission measurements provide a unique dataset of day and night observations of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) up to both poles. A recent classification method for PSC types in infrared (IR) limb spectra using spectral measurements in different atmospheric window regions has been applied to the complete mission period of MIPAS. The method uses a simple probabilistic classifier based on Bayes' theorem with a strong independence assumption on a combination of a well-established two-colour ratio method and multiple 2-D probability density functions of brightness temperature differences. The Bayesian classifier distinguishes between solid particles of ice, nitric acid trihydrate (NAT), and liquid droplets of supercooled ternary solution (STS), as well as mixed types.A climatology of MIPAS PSC occurrence and specific PSC classes has been compiled. Comparisons with results from the classification scheme of the spaceborne lidar Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) on the Cloud-Aerosol-Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) satellite show excellent correspondence in the spatial and temporal evolution for the area of PSC coverage (APSC) even for each PSC class. Probability density functions of the PSC temperature, retrieved for each class with respect to equilibrium temperature of ice and based on coincident temperatures from meteorological reanalyses, are in accordance with the microphysical knowledge of the formation processes with respect to temperature for all three PSC types.This paper represents unprecedented pole-covering day- and nighttime climatology of the PSC distributions and their composition of different particle types. The dataset allows analyses on the temporal and spatial development of the PSC formation process over multiple winters. At first view, a more general comparison of APSC and AICE retrieved from the observations and from the existence temperature for NAT and ice particles based on the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) reanalysis temperature data shows the high potential of the climatology for the validation and improvement of PSC schemes in chemical transport and chemistry–climate models.