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Atmosphere 2018, 9(7), 258; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos9070258

Cloud Area Distributions of Shallow Cumuli: A New Method for Ground-Based Images

1
Environmental Studies, Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR 97219, USA
2
Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
3
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA 99354, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 June 2018 / Revised: 7 July 2018 / Accepted: 9 July 2018 / Published: 12 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Climatology and Meteorology)
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Abstract

We develop a new approach that resolves cloud area distributions of single-layer shallow cumuli from ground-based observations. Our simple and computationally inexpensive approach uses images obtained from a Total Sky Imager (TSI) and complementary information on cloud base height provided by lidar measurements to estimate cloud equivalent diameter (CED) over a wide range of cloud sizes (about 0.01–3.5 km) with high temporal resolution (30 s). We illustrate the feasibility of our approach by comparing the estimated CEDs with those derived from collocated and coincident high-resolution (0.03 km) Landsat cloud masks with different spatial and temporal patterns of cloud cover collected over the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Southern Great Plains (SGP) site. We demonstrate that (1) good (~7%) agreement between TSI and Landsat characteristic cloud size can be obtained for clouds that fall within the region of the sky observable by the TSI and (2) large clouds that extend beyond this region are responsible for noticeable (~16%) underestimation of the TSI characteristic cloud size. Our approach provides a previously unavailable dataset for process studies in the convective boundary layer and evaluation of shallow cumuli in cloud-resolving models. View Full-Text
Keywords: sky imager; cloud horizontal size; continental single-layer shallow cumuli; cloud area distributions from ground-based and satellite observations; cloud base height from lidar measurements sky imager; cloud horizontal size; continental single-layer shallow cumuli; cloud area distributions from ground-based and satellite observations; cloud base height from lidar measurements
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Kleiss, J.M.; Riley, E.A.; Long, C.N.; Riihimaki, L.D.; Berg, L.K.; Morris, V.R.; Kassianov, E. Cloud Area Distributions of Shallow Cumuli: A New Method for Ground-Based Images. Atmosphere 2018, 9, 258.

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