Thomas, SM, Heidinger, AK, Pavolonis, MJ (2004). Comparison of NOAA's operational AVHRR-derived cloud amount to other satellite-derived cloud climatologies. JOURNAL OF CLIMATE, 17(24), 4805-4822.
A comparison is made between a new operational NOAA Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) global cloud amount product to those from established satellite-derived cloud climatologies. The new operational NOAA AVHRR cloud amount is derived using the cloud detection scheme in the extended Clouds from AVHRR (CLAVR-x) system. The cloud mask within CLAVR-x is a replacement for the Clouds from AVHRR phase 1 (CLAVR-1) cloud mask. Previous analysis of the CLAVR-1 cloud climatologies reveals that its utility for climate studies is reduced by poor high-latitude performance and the inability to include data from the morning orbiting satellites. This study demonstrates, through comparison with established satellite-derived cloud climatologies, the ability of CLAVR-x to overcome the two main shortcomings of the CLAVR-1-derived cloud climatologies. While systematic differences remain in the cloud amounts from CLAVR-x and other climatologies, no evidence is seen that these differences represent a failure of the CLAVR-x cloud detection scheme. Comparisons for July 1995 and January 1996 indicate that for most latitude zones, CLAVR-x produces less cloud than the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) and the University of Wisconsin High Resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder (UW HIRS). Comparisons to the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) for 1-8 April 2003 also reveal that CLAVR-x tends to produce less cloud. Comparison of the seasonal cycle (July-January) of cloud difference with ISCCP, however, indicates close agreement. It is argued that these differences may be due to the methodology used to construct a cloud amount from the individual pixel-level cloud detection results. Overall, the global cloud amounts from CLAVR-x appear to be an improvement over those from CLAVR-1 and compare well to those from established satellite cloud climatologies. The CLAVR-x cloud detection results have been operational since late 2003 and are available in real time from NOAA.