A global data set of vertical profiles of polar stratospheric cloud (PSC) volume density has been derived from Michelson Interferometer for Passive Atmospheric Sounding (MIPAS) space-borne infrared limb measurements between 2002 and 2012. To develop a well characterized and efficient retrieval scheme, systematic tests based on limb-radiance simulations for PSCs from in-situ balloon observations have been performed . The finally selected wavenumber range was 831–832.5 cm-1.
Optical constants of nitric acid trihydrate (NAT) have been used to derive maximum and minimum profiles of volume density which are compatible with MIPAS observations under the assumption of small, non-scattering and larger, scattering PSC particles. These max/min profiles deviate from their mean value at each altitude by about 40-45%, which is attributed as the maximum systematic error of the retrieval. Further, the retrieved volume density profiles are characterized by a random error due to instrumental noise of 0.02–0.05 μm3cm-3, a detection limit of about 0.1–0.2 μm3cm-3 and a vertical resolution of around 3 km. Comparisons with co-incident observations by th ... mehre Cloud-Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) on the CALIPSO (Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations) satellite showed good agreement regarding the vertical profile shape. Quantitatively, in the case of supercooled ternary solution (STS) PSCs, the CALIOP dataset fits to the MIPAS retrievals obtained under the assumptions of small particles. Unlike for STS and NAT, in the case of ice PSCs the MIPAS retrievals are limited by the clouds becoming optically thick in the limb-direction. In these cases, the MIPAS volume densities represent lower limits. Among other interesting features, this climatology helps to study quantitatively the on-set of PSC formation very near to the South Pole and the large variability of the PSC volume densities between different Arctic stratospheric winters.