Cloud fraction determined by thermal infrared and visible all-sky cameras

Aebi, Christine; Gröbner, Julian; Kämpfer, Niklaus

The thermal infrared cloud camera (IRCCAM) is a prototype instrument that determines cloud fraction continuously during daytime and night-time using measurements of the absolute thermal sky radiance distributions in the 8–14 inline-formulaµm wavelength range in conjunction with clear-sky radiative transfer modelling. Over a time period of 2 years, the fractional cloud coverage obtained by the IRCCAM is compared with two commercial cameras (Mobotix Q24M and Schreder VIS-J1006) sensitive in the visible spectrum, as well as with the automated partial cloud amount detection algorithm (APCADA) using pyrgeometer data. Over the 2-year period, the cloud fractions determined by the IRCCAM and the visible all-sky cameras are consistent to within 2 oktas (0.25 cloud fraction) for 90 % of the data set during the day, while for day- and night-time data the comparison with the APCADA algorithm yields an agreement of 80 %. These results are independent of cloud types with the exception of thin cirrus clouds, which are not detected as consistently by the current cloud algorithm of the IRCCAM. The measured absolute sky radiance distributions also provide the potential for future applications by being combined with ancillary meteorological data from radiosondes and ceilometers.



Aebi, Christine / Gröbner, Julian / Kämpfer, Niklaus: Cloud fraction determined by thermal infrared and visible all-sky cameras. 2018. Copernicus Publications.


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