Journal of Meteorological Research

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 553–562 | Cite as

Evaluation of Cloud Top Height Retrievals from China’s Next-Generation Geostationary Meteorological Satellite FY-4A

  • Zhonghui Tan
  • Shuo MaEmail author
  • Xianbin Zhao
  • Wei Yan
  • Wen Lu
Regular Articles


To evaluate the validity of cloud top height (CTH) retrievals from FY-4A, the first of China’s next-generation geostationary meteorological satellite series, the retrievals are compared to those from Himawari-8, CloudSat, Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO), and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) operational products from August to October 2017. Regarding CTHs from CloudSat, CALIPSO, and MODIS as truth, the results show that the performance of FY-4A CTH retrievals is similar to that of Himawari-8. Both FY-4A and Himawari-8 retrieve reasonable CTH values for single-layer clouds, but perform poorly for multi-layer clouds. The mean bias error (MBE) shows that the mean value of FY-4A CTH retrievals is smaller than that of Himawari-8 for single-layer clouds but larger for multi-layer clouds. For ice crystal clouds, both FY-4A and Himawari-8 obtain the underestimated CTHs. However, there is a tendency for FY-4A and Himawari-8 to overestimate the CTH values of CloudSat and CALIPSO mainly for low level liquid water clouds. The temperature inversion near the tops of water clouds may result in an overestimation of CTHs. According to the MBE change with altitude, FY-4A and Himawari-8 overestimate the CTHs mainly for clouds below 3 km, and the overestimation is slightly more apparent in Himawari-8 data than that in FY-4A values. As the cloud optical thickness (COT) increases, the CTH bias of FY-4A CTH retrievals gradually decreases. Two typical cases are analyzed to illustrate the differences between different satellites’ CTH retrievals in detail.

Key words

FY-4A Himawari-8 CloudSat Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) cloud top height (CTH) 


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This project is supported by the National Satellite Meteorological Center (NSMC) and China Meteorological Administration (CMA). The CloudSat and Himawari-8 data are provided by the CloudSat Data Processing Center (CDPC) and Meteorological Satellite Center of Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) respectively.


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Copyright information

© The Chinese Meteorological Society and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhonghui Tan
    • 1
  • Shuo Ma
    • 1
    Email author
  • Xianbin Zhao
    • 1
  • Wei Yan
    • 1
  • Wen Lu
    • 1
  1. 1.National University of Defense TechnologyNanjingChina

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