The west coast of Africa is a typical region where massive dust storms occur, especially in the Boreal summer. They become particularly visible from space when the easterly winds transport the dust over the darker background of the Atlantic waters, and thus revealed by aerosol optical depth (AOD) retrievals (see animation of MODIS/Aqua AOD ). One such event took place on July 20, 2006, as seen by AIRS visible bands (left panel). At that time, CloudSat and CALIPSO were already in nominal data-producing (right panel) operations, with an orbit relative to Aqua shown as red line in the AIRS image. The right panel shows (from top to bottom) CALIOP and CloudSat vertical profiles, and underlying horizontal swaths of MODIS collocated subsets and a full AIRS swath. Among the provisional CALIPSO lidar (CALIOP) products is the Vertical Feature Mask that shows promising detection of multi-layered aerosol and clouds formations. While CALIOP, MODIS, and AIRS are sensitive to thin clouds, CloudSat will complement in penetrating through and showing the vertical structure of optically thick clouds. Thus CloudSat and CALIOP are considered of invaluable importance for accurate detection, vertical placement and assessment of cloud and aerosol structures, which is expected to have significant impact on the understanding of the planetary heat budget.
The A-Train Data Depot will facilitate the understanding of the planetary heat budget by providing quick previews, similar to the above, of key atmospheric measurements that are made by different A-Train instruments at different times, resolutions, orbits, and thus are otherwise difficult to put together for fast data discoveries.