Deep space observations of sun glints from marine ice clouds

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Department of Physics


The Earth Polychromatic Camera (EPIC) onboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft takes images of the sunlit face of the earth from a million miles away. Earlier work showed that EPIC detected the specular reflection of sunlight (i.e., sun glint) from ice crystals floating in cold clouds over land; here we show that this phenomenon can also be detected over oceans. Furthermore, the results show that--using its observations at oxygen A-band absorption bands--EPIC can distinguish glints off marine ice clouds from those off the ocean surface. The analysis of more than two years of EPIC data reveals that the two kinds of glints are detected with comparable frequency. Glints off clouds are shown to be generally brighter but smaller in spatial extent. It is also demonstrated that glints off ice clouds have a discernible effect on the regional mean reflectance and that EPIC observations can help constrain the radiative contribution of oriented ice crystals.

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© 2019 IEEE. Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters