Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 57, Issue 3–4, pp 181–195 | Cite as

Cloud climate investigations in the Nordic region using NOAA AVHRR data

  • K. -G. Karlsson


A method to estimate monthly cloud conditions (monthly cloud frequencies) from multispectral satellite imagery is described. The operational cloud classification scheme SCANDIA (the SMHI Cloud ANalysis model using DIgital AVHRR data), based on high resolution imagery from the polar orbiting NOAA-satellites, has been used to produce monthly cloud frequencies for the entire year of 1993 and some additional months in 1991, 1992, 1994 and 1995. Cloud analyses were made for an area covering the Nordic countries with a horizontal resolution of four km. Examples of seasonal, monthly and diurnal variation in cloud conditions are given and an annual mean for 1993 is presented.

Comparisons with existing surface observations showed very good agreement for horizontal cloud distributions but approximately 5% smaller cloud amounts were found in the satellite estimations. The most evident problems were encountered in the winter season due to difficulties in identifying low-level cloudiness at very low sun elevations. The underestimation in the summer season was partly fictious and caused by the overestimation of convective cloud cover by surface observers.

SCANDIA results were compared to ISCCP (International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project) cloud climatologies for two selected months in 1991 and 1992. ISCCP cloudiness was indicated to be higher, especially during the month with anticyclonic conditions where a cloudiness excess of more than 10% were found. The regional variation of cloud conditions in the area was found to be inadequately described by ISCCP cloud climatologies. An improvement of the horizontal resolution of ISCCP data seems necessary to enable use for regional applications.

The SCANDIA model is proposed as a valuable tool for local and regional monitoring of the cloud climatology at high latitudes. More extensive comparisons with ISCCP cloud climatologies are suggested as well as comparisons with modelled cloudiness from atmospheric general circulation models and climate models. Special studies of cloud conditions in the Polar areas are also proposed.


Atmospheric General Circulation Model Cloud Amount International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project Cloud Condition AVHRR Data 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. -G. Karlsson
    • 1
  1. 1.Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological InstituteNorrköpingSweden

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