Two independent methods of measuring the transmittance of cirrus clouds are compared. Both used a CO2 pulsed Doppler lidar at a wavelength of 10.59 µm. The first method used backscatter from the calibration target El Chichon stratospheric cloud that was present over Boulder in 1982 and 1983. The second method used conical lidar scans at different zenith angles when uniform cirrus decks were present. Extinction coefficients measured from both methods average 0.1 km-1 for tenuous cirrus 1.0 km thick to 0.78 km-1 for cirrus several kilometers thick. There is a wide standard deviation in extinction values. Extinction-tobackscatter ratios S vary from <1000 sr for tenuous clouds to 2600 sr for dense clouds. Mie scattering and extinction calculations for spherical ice particles of 10–50 µm in radius lead to ratios S > 2000 sr, so long as the ice absorption is entered into the calculations. The backscattering ratio for ice cylinders is 1 order of magnitude lower than for spheres. Backscatter in the IR may, therefore, be reasonably well modeled by some combination of spheres and cylinders. Cloud thickness statistics from lidar returns show that cirrus decks average ~500 m thick. Clouds thinner than 300 m were often overlooked by the unaided surface-based observer. These preliminary results are in rather close agreement with the LOWTRAN 6 cirrus cloud model predictions.
Freeman F. Hall, Jr., Richard E. Cupp, and Seth W. Troxel, "Cirrus cloud transmittance and backscatter in the infrared measured with a CO2 lidar," Appl. Opt. 27, 2510-2516 (1988)