Hutchison, K, Wong, E, Ou, SC (2006). Cloud base heights retrieved during night-time conditions with MODIS data. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF REMOTE SENSING, 27(14), 2847-2862.

The capability to retrieve cloud base heights was developed under the US National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) programme as one of 27 data products to be created from data collected by the Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). First launch of the VIIRS sensor, which is the high-resolution Earth imager of the NPOESS programme, comes on National Aeronautics & Space Administration's ( NASA) NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP). In preparation for this launch, extensive testing of the VIIRS cloud algorithms was completed to verify that product performance will satisfy system requirements before the cloud algorithms were hosted in the NPOESS ground processing centre. The approach taken to retrieve cloud base height converts cloud optical properties into a geometric thickness which is then subtracted from the cloud top height. Performance of the cloud base height algorithms has been verified recently using MODIS data, together with temporarily and spatial coincident observations of cloud thickness values made with the millimetre cloud radar operated at the US Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement ( ARM) Program Southern Great Plains site in Oklahoma. Of particular significance is the clear demonstration that both cloud optical properties and cloud base heights are retrieved accurately during night-time conditions with the VIIRS algorithms, since neither of these products is currently produced by the NASA EOS programme. Based upon these analyses, the VIIRS cloud algorithms are expected to satisfy NPOESS requirements, making VIIRS the first operational satellite sensor capable of retrieving three-dimensional cloud fields.