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A comparison of satellite-retrieved and simulated cloud coverage in the Baltic Sea area as part of the BALTIMOS project


A cloud-detection algorithm for METEOSAT first generation data has been developed. The algorithm utilizes solely infrared data from the METEOSAT thermal infrared window channel at around 11.5 μm. The developed algorithm estimates an assumed clear-sky brightness temperature from time series analysis on pixel bases. Land-/sea-depending dynamic thresholds are then utilized discriminating the infrared images in cloudy, undecided, and cloud free pixels. The cloud-detection algorithm has been validated against synoptic observations. The developed cloud-detection scheme has been applied to 10 years (1992–2001) of METEOSAT data, extracting cloud coverage statistics for the Baltic Sea catchment area. These have been compared to corresponding cloud coverage statistics derived from the BALTIMOS coupled model system. Building overall averaged values of the cloud coverage in the period from 1999 to 2001 gives results with very good agreement between simulation and observation: the total METEOSAT-derived cloud coverage amounts to 0.65 compared to 0.63 for BALTIMOS. In contrast, large discrepancies in the phase of the diurnal cycle of cloud coverage have been observed. A significant trend in total cloud amount was observed neither from the model nor from the satellite.

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This work was funded by the BALTIMOS project which is a contribution to the BMBF research program DEKLIM-FKZ: 01 LD 0027.

We thank Dr. E. Reimer for providing the dataset of synop observations and Philip Lorenz for providing the BALTIMOS data.

We thank the reviewers for their constructive revisions and comments.

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Correspondence to M. Reuter.

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Reuter, M., Fischer, J. A comparison of satellite-retrieved and simulated cloud coverage in the Baltic Sea area as part of the BALTIMOS project. Theor Appl Climatol 118, 695–706 (2014).

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  • Cloud Coverage
  • Brightness Temperature
  • Diurnal Cycle
  • International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project
  • Total Cloud Coverage