Abstract

Landsat Multispectral Scanner (MSS) and Thematic Mapper (TM) data, with 80 and 30 m spatial resolution, respectively, have been employed to study the spatial structure of boundary-layer and intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) clouds. The probability distributions of cloud area and cloud perimeters are found to approximately follow a power-law, with a different power (i.e., fractal dimension) for each cloud type. They are better approximated by a double power-law behavior, indicating a change in the fractal dimension at a characteristic size which depends upon cloud type. The fractal dimension also changes with threshold. The more intense cloud areas are found to have a higher perimeter fractal dimension, perhaps indicative of the increased turbulence at cloud top. A detailed picture of the inhomogeneous spatial structure of various cloud types will contribute to a better understanding of basic cloud processes, and also has implications for the remote sensing of clouds, for their effects on remote sensing of other parameters, and for the parameterization of clouds in general circulation models, all of which rely upon plane-parallel radiative transfer algorithms.

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