April 13, 2017
Vertical Profiles of Clouds and Aerosols From the ISS: Two Years and Counting of CATS Data
The Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) is a lidar remote sensing instrument designed to provide vertical profiles of clouds and aerosols while also demonstrating new in-space technologies for future Earth Science missions. CATS has been operating on the Japanese Experiment Module – Exposed Facility (JEM-EF) of the International Space Station (ISS) for over two years, beginning in early February 2015.
CATS both extends and enhances the global climate record of cloud and aerosol vertical profiles. The ISS orbit provides more comprehensive coverage of the tropics and mid-latitudes than NASA A-Train sensors, with nearly a three-day repeat cycle. Thus CATS provides excellent coverage over the primary aerosol transport tracks, mid-latitude storm tracks, and tropical convection at local times not observed by the NASA A-Train. The high sensitivity of the CATS 1064-nm signal also provides improvements to detecting optically thin ice clouds, volcanic plumes, and absorbing aerosols (i.e. smoke) above clouds. CATS near real time data products enable assimilation of aerosol vertical profiles into models for applications such as forecasting volcanic plume transport that cost the airline industry billions of dollar and predicting air quality during hazardous events that result in millions of deaths globally. Examples and statistics of CATS data will be presented that demonstrate the utility of CATS data for more accurately predicting hazardous aerosol events and determining the climate impacts of clouds and aerosols.