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This paper introduces a new algorithm to detect aerosols and clouds based on micropulse lidar measurements. A semidiscretization processing technique is first used to inhibit the impact of increasing noise with distance. The value distribution equalization method which reduces the magnitude of signal variations with distance is then introduced. Combined with empirical threshold values, we determine if the signal waves indicate clouds or aerosols. This method can separate clouds and aerosols with high accuracy, although differentiation between aerosols and clouds are subject to more uncertainties depending on the thresholds selected. Compared with the existing Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program lidar-based cloud product, the new method appears more reliable and detects more clouds with high bases. The algorithm is applied to a year of observations at both the U.S. Southern Great Plains (SGP) and China Taihu sites. At the SGP site, the cloud frequency shows a clear seasonal variation with maximum values in winter and spring and shows bimodal vertical distributions with maximum occurrences at around 3-6km and 8-12km. The annual averaged cloud frequency is about 50%. The dominant clouds are stratiform in winter and convective in summer. By contrast, the cloud frequency at the Taihu site shows no clear seasonal variation and the maximum occurrence is at around 1km. The annual averaged cloud frequency is about 15% higher than that at the SGP site. A seasonal analysis of cloud base occurrence frequency suggests that stratiform clouds dominate at the Taihu site. Key Points A new reliable MPL-based aerosol and cloud detection algorithm is developed The new method detects more clouds with high bases than ARM MPL VAP product Retrieved cloud properties are reasonable at both the SGP and the Taihu sites ©2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.




An edited version of this paper was published by AGU. Copyright 2014. The authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

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