Retrieving Cloud Characteristics from Ground-Based Daytime Color All-Sky Images

A discussion is presented of daytime sky imaging and techniques that may be applied to the analysis of full-color sky images to infer cloud macrophysical properties. Descriptions of two different types of skyimaging systems developed by the authors are presented, one of which has been developed into a commercially available instrument. Retrievals of fractional sky cover from automated processing methods are compared to human retrievals, both from direct observations and visual analyses of sky images. Although some uncertainty exists in fractional sky cover retrievals from sky images, this uncertainty is no greater than that attached to human observations for the commercially available sky-imager retrievals. Thus, the application of automatic digital image processing techniques on sky images is a useful method to complement, or even replace, traditional human observations of sky cover and, potentially, cloud type. Additionally, the possibilities for inferring other cloud parameters such as cloud brokenness and solar obstruction further enhance the usefulness of sky imagers ​
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