Cloud distributions over the coastal Arctic Ocean: Surface-based and satellite observations

Erica L. Key, Peter J. Minnett, Robert A. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


All-weather Arctic cloud analyses primarily derived from a surface-based hemispheric all-sky imager are compared against ISCCP D-1 cloud amount, type, and phase during the sunlit polar season. Increasing surface temperatures and decreasing ice cover over the past decade have altered heat and moisture fluxes around the Arctic, providing conditions more conducive for cloud generation. Shipboard and ice camp measurements from field experiments conducted over an 8-year period show cloudy skies in 70-95% of the record. Most of these occurrences are stratiform or multi-level, multi-form cloud, increasing in amount with time through the season. Collocated ISCCP retrievals underestimate cloud amount at small solar zenith angles and overestimate at large angles, sometimes by as much as 50%. Satellite assessments of cloud form classify 95% of scenes as having multiple cloud types, the majority of which are mid-level ice cloud and low-level liquid cloud. Despite large discrepancies in diurnal cloud amount, regional averages of ISCCP pixel cloudiness over the length of the experiments agree within ±5% of surface observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-88
Number of pages32
JournalAtmospheric Research
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 2004


  • Arctic environment
  • Clouds
  • Spatial distribution
  • Temporal distribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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