GOES ABI Detection of Thin Cirrus over Land

Theodore M. McHardy, James R. Campbell, David A. Peterson, Simone Lolli, Anne Garnier, Arunas P. Kuciauskas, Melinda L. Surratt, Jared W. Marquis, Steven D. Miller, Erica K. Dolinar, Xiquan Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This study develops a new thin cirrus detection algorithm applicable to overland scenes. The methodology builds from a previously developed overwater algorithm, which makes use of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite 16 (GOES-16) Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) channel 4 radiance (1.378-μm “cirrus” band). Calibration of this algorithm is based on coincident Cloud–Aerosol Lidar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) cloud profiles. Emphasis is placed on rejection of false detections that are more common in overland scenes. Clear-sky false alarm rates over land are examined as a function of precipitable water vapor (PWV), showing that nearly all pixels having a PWV of <0.4 cm produce false alarms. Enforcing an above-cloud PWV minimum threshold of ∼1 cm ensures that most low-/midlevel clouds are not misclassified as cirrus by the algorithm. Pixel-filtering based on the total column PWV and the PWV for a layer between the top of the atmosphere (TOA) and a predetermined altitude H removes significant land surface and low-/midlevel cloud false alarms from the overall sample while preserving over 80% of valid cirrus pixels. Additionally, the use of an aggressive PWV layer threshold preferentially removes noncirrus pixels such that the remaining sample is composed of nearly 70% cirrus pixels, at the cost of a much-reduced overall sample size. This study shows that lower-tropospheric clouds are a much more significant source of uncertainty in cirrus detection than the land surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1415-1429
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Cirrus clouds
  • Cloud retrieval
  • Remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Atmospheric Science


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