Monitoring of climatic variability and climate modeling both require a reliable global cloud data set. Examination is made of the temporal and spatial variability of cloudiness in light of recommendations made by GARP in 1975 (and updated by JOC in 1978 and 1980) for cloud data archiving. An examination of the methods of comparing cloud cover frequency curves suggests that the use of the beta distribution not only facilitates objective comparisons, but also reduces overall storage requirements. A specific study of the only current global cloud climatology (the U.S. Air Force's 3-dimensional nephanalysis) over the United Kingdom indicates that discussion of methods of validating satellite-based data sets is urgently required.

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1Current address of first author: NASA, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 2880 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10025