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Summertime Continental Shallow Cumulus Cloud Detection Using GOES-16 Satellite and Ground-Based Stereo Cameras at the DOE ARM Southern Great Plains Site


Summertime continental shallow cumulus clouds (ShCu) are detected using Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-16 reflectance data, with cross-validation by observations from ground-based stereo cameras at the Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Southern Great Plains site. A ShCu cloudy pixel is identified when the GOES reflectance exceeds the clear-sky surface reflectance by a reflectance detection threshold of ShCu, ∆R. We firstly construct diurnally varying clear-sky surface reflectance maps and then estimate the ∆R. A GOES simulator is designed, projecting the clouds reconstructed by stereo cameras towards the surface along the satellite’s slanted viewing direction. The dynamic ShCu detection threshold ∆R is determined by making the GOES cloud fraction (CF) equal to the CF from the GOES simulator. Although there are temporal variabilities in ∆R, cloud fractions and cloud size distributions can be well reproduced using a constant ∆R value of 0.045. The method presented in this study enables daytime ShCu detection, which is usually falsely reported as clear sky in the GOES-16 cloud mask data product. Using this method, a new ShCu dataset can be generated to bridge the observational gap in detecting ShCu, which may transition into deep precipitating clouds, and to facilitate further studies on ShCu development over heterogenous land surface.

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