Development of a combined CloudSat-CALIPSO cloud mask to show global cloud distribution

Yuichiro Hagihara, Hajime Okamoto, Ryo Yoshida

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102 Citations (Scopus)


We developed a cloud mask scheme that combines measurements from CloudSat and Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellites. First, we developed a cloud mask scheme for CALIPSO using a threshold of the attenuated total backscattering coefficient and a spatial continuity test. We then developed a combined CloudSat-CALIPSO cloud mask. These cloud masks were applied to 3 months of data from September to November 2006, and the vertical distributions of zonal mean cloud fractions and cloud coverage were analyzed. We also examined the standard vertical feature mask (VFM) cloud scheme. The VFM occasionally made false detections because of its horizontal averaging procedure and seemed to misclassify noise or aerosols as clouds. In addition, the VFM appeared to significantly overestimate low-level clouds. Below 2 km, the cloud fraction differed by as much as 25% between the VFM and our combined scheme. We also compared the zonal mean cloud coverage for the topmost layer detected by the sensors using our CALIPSO scheme, the VFM, our combined CloudSat-CALIPSO scheme, and the Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) results. For low-level clouds (>680 hPa), the MODIS result was larger than that of our CloudSat-CALIPSO scheme, and results from the VFM and our CALIPSO scheme differed by as much as 15%. The CALIPSO, CloudSat-CALIPSO, and MODIS results were similar for total cloud coverage, but the VFM result was different. Because of possible misclassification at low levels, the VFM showed the largest cloud coverage in middle and low latitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberD00H33
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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