Climate Data

CloudSat

CloudSat is a satellite mission designed to measure the vertical structure of clouds from space. The radar data produces detailed images of cloud structures.

CloudSat is one of a constellation of satellites known as the A-Train (Cloudsat, CALIPSO, PARASOL, Aqua, Aura, GCOM-W1). The satellites fly in a nearly circular orbit with an equatorial altitude of approximately 705 km. The orbit is sun-synchronous, maintaining a roughly fixed angle between the orbital plane and the mean solar meridian. CloudSat maintains a close formation with Aqua and a particularly close formation with CALIPSO, providing near-simultaneous and collocated observations with the instruments on these two platforms.

CloudSat data are available as Level-2 and as part of the Cloud Feedback Model Intercomparison Project (CFMIP) .

Key Limitations:

  • Monthly mean data are created only based on a limited number of samples since the ground track repeats every 16 days.

Expert Developer Guidance

Furthermore, the CloudSat radar only generates a curtain or two-dimensional cross section through the atmosphere as the satellite moves along its orbital trajectory. Therefore multi-year seasonal mean is recommended because it provides a better representation of cloud statistics. The multi-year seasonal mean can be easily calculated from the monthly data and the radar overpass numbers should be used to weight the mean calculations.

http://climserv.ipsl.polytechnique.fr/cfmip-obs/

Technical Notes

CloudSat and Calipso provide complimentary information and are, sometimes, combined.

The CloudSat radar only generates a curtain or two-dimensional cross section through the atmosphere as the satellite moves along its orbital trajectory. Therefore multi-year seasonal mean is recommended because it provides a better representation of cloud statistics.  The multi-year seasonal mean can be easily calculated from the monthly data.

After a battery anomaly on 17 April 2011, the CloudSat spacecraft ceased collecting data and lost formation with the A-Train. Daylight-only data collection resumed on 27 October 2011. CloudSat returned to the A-Train on 15 May 2012, and a maneuver to achieve footprint overlap with CALIPSO was performed on 18 July 2012.

Note that PARASOL was maneuvered to leave its position inside the A-Train on December 2, 2009.

Years of Record

2006/06 to 2010/11
temporal metadataID:

Formats

Timestep

Monthly

Data Time Period Extended?

yes, data set is extended

Domain

Spatial Resolution

2x2, 480m vertical resolution

Vertical Levels

Earth system components and main variables

Data Access: Please Cite data sources, following the data providers' instructions.

Key Figures

Click the thumbnails to view larger sizes

Thumbnails

Captions

Cite this page

National Center for Atmospheric Research Staff (Eds). Last modified 07 Oct 2013. "The Climate Data Guide: CloudSat." Retrieved from https://climatedataguide.ucar.edu/climate-data/cloudsat.

Acknowledgement of any material taken from this page is appreciated. On behalf of experts who have contributed data, advice, and/or figures, please cite their work as well.