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Title: High-resolution photography of clouds from the surface: Retrieval of optical depth of thin clouds down to centimeter scales: High-Resolution Photography of Clouds

This article describes the approach and presents initial results, for a period of several minutes in north central Oklahoma, of an examination of clouds by high resolution digital photography from the surface looking vertically upward. A commercially available camera having 35-mm equivalent focal length up to 1200 mm (nominal resolution as fine as 6 µrad, which corresponds to 9 mm for cloud height 1.5 km) is used to obtain a measure of zenith radiance of a 30 m × 30 m domain as a two-dimensional image consisting of 3456 × 3456 pixels (12 million pixels). Downwelling zenith radiance varies substantially within single images and between successive images obtained at 4-s intervals. Variation in zenith radiance found on scales down to about 10 cm is attributed to variation in cloud optical depth (COD). Attention here is directed primarily to optically thin clouds, COD less than about 2. A radiation transfer model used to relate downwelling zenith radiance to COD and to relate the counts in the camera image to zenith radiance, permits determination of COD on a pixel-by-pixel basis. COD for thin clouds determined in this way exhibits considerable variation, for example, an order of magnitude within 15 m, a factormore » of 2 within 4 m, and 25% (0.12 to 0.15) over 14 cm. In conclusion, this approach, which examines cloud structure on scales 3 to 5 orders of magnitude finer than satellite products, opens new avenues for examination of cloud structure and evolution.« less
ORCiD logo [1] ; ORCiD logo [2] ; ORCiD logo [3]
  1. Environmental and Climate Sciences, Brookhaven National Laboratory, New York New York USA
  2. Environmental and Climate Sciences, Brookhaven National Laboratory, New York New York USA; Now at Science Systems and Applications Inc., Greenbelt Maryland USA
  3. New York City College of Technology, City University of New York, New York New York USA
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 2169-897X; R&D Project: 2016-BNL-EE630EECA-Budg; KP1701000
Grant/Contract Number:
SC0012704; AC02-98CH10886
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 122; Journal Issue: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 2169-897X
American Geophysical Union
Research Org:
Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Upton, NY (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Cloud structure; Zenith radiance; Radiation transfer; Cloud optical depth; Cloud albedo
OSTI Identifier: