Cloud Photogrammetry from Space
Keywords: photogrammetry, cloud top height, volcanic ash, SEVIRI, MODIS, ISS
Abstract. The most commonly used method for satellite cloud top height (CTH) compares brightness temperature of the cloud with the atmospheric temperature profile. Because of the uncertainties of this method, we propose a photogrammetric approach. As clouds can move with high velocities, even instruments with multiple cameras are not appropriate for accurate CTH estimation. Here we present two solutions. The first is based on the parallax between data retrieved from geostationary (SEVIRI, HRV band; 1000 m spatial resolution) and polar orbiting satellites (MODIS, band 1; 250 m spatial resolution). The procedure works well if the data from both satellites are retrieved nearly simultaneously. However, MODIS does not retrieve the data at exactly the same time as SEVIRI. To compensate for advection in the atmosphere we use two sequential SEVIRI images (one before and one after the MODIS retrieval) and interpolate the cloud position from SEVIRI data to the time of MODIS retrieval. CTH is then estimated by intersection of corresponding lines-of-view from MODIS and interpolated SEVIRI data. The second method is based on NASA program Crew Earth observations from the International Space Station (ISS). The ISS has a lower orbit than most operational satellites, resulting in a shorter minimal time between two images, which is needed to produce a suitable parallax. In addition, images made by the ISS crew are taken by a full frame sensor and not a push broom scanner that most operational satellites use. Such data make it possible to observe also short time evolution of clouds.