Abstract

Landsat Multispectral Scanner (MSS) digital data are used to remotely sense cumulus cloud properties such as cloud fraction and cloud reflectance, along with the distribution of cloud number and cloud fraction as a function of cloud size. The analysis is carried out for four cumulus fields covering regions approximately 150 km square. Results for these initial cloud fields indicate that: (i) the common intuitive model of clouds as nearly uniform reflecting surfaces is a poor representation of cumulus clouds, (ii) the cumulus clouds were often multicelled, even for clouds as small as 1 km in diameter, (iii) cloud fractional coverage derived using a simple reflectance threshold is sensitive to the chosen threshold even for 57-meter resolution Landsat data, (iv) the sensitivity of cloud fraction to changes in satellite sensor resolution is less sensitive than suggested theoretically, and (v) the Landsat derived cloud size distributions show encouraging similarities among the cloud fields examined.

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