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  • Author or Editor: F. Mosher x
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Michael F. Donovan, Earle R. Williams, Cathy Kessinger, Gary Blackburn, Paul H. Herzegh, Richard L. Bankert, Steve Miller, and Frederick R. Mosher


Three algorithms based on geostationary visible and infrared (IR) observations are used to identify convective cells that do (or may) present a hazard to aviation over the oceans. The performance of these algorithms in detecting potentially hazardous cells is determined through verification with Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite observations of lightning and radar reflectivity, which provide internal information about the convective cells. The probability of detection of hazardous cells using the satellite algorithms can exceed 90% when lightning is used as a criterion for hazard, but the false-alarm ratio with all three algorithms is consistently large (∼40%), thereby exaggerating the presence of hazardous conditions. This shortcoming results in part from the algorithms’ dependence upon visible and IR observations, and can be traced to the widespread prevalence of deep cumulonimbi with weak updrafts but without lightning over tropical oceans, whose origin is attributed to significant entrainment during ascent.

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W. B. Rossow, F. Mosher, E. Kinsella, A. Arking, M. Desbois, E. Harrison, P. Minnis, E. Ruprecht, G. Seze, C. Simmer, and E. Smith


The International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) will provide a uniform global climatology of satellite-measured radiances and derive an experimental climatology of cloud radiative properties from these radiances. A pilot study to intercompare cloud analysis algorithms was initiated in 1981 to define a state-of-the-art algorithm for ISCCP. This study compared the results of applying six different algorithms to the same satellite radiance data. The results show that the performance of all current algorithms depends on how accurately the clear sky radiances are specified; much improvement in results is possible with better methods for obtaining these clear-sky radiances. A major difference between the algorithms is caused by their sensitivity to changes in the cloud size distribution and optical properties: all methods, which work well for some cloud types or climate regions, do poorly for other situations. Therefore, the ISCCP algorithm is composed of a series of steps, each of which is designed to detect some of the clouds present in the scene. This progressive analysis is used to retrieve an estimate of the clear sky radiances corresponding to each satellite image. Application of a bispectral threshold is then used as the last step to determine the cloud fraction. Cloudy radiances are interpreted in terms of a simplified model of cloud radiative effects to provide some measure of cloud radiative properties. Application of this experimental algorithm to produce a cloud climatology and field observation programs to validate the results will stimulate further research on cloud analysis techniques as part of ISCCP.

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