EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

From MODIS cloud properties to cloud types using semi-supervised learning

Julien Lenhardt1, Johannes Quaas1, and Dino Sejdinovic2
Julien Lenhardt et al.
  • 1Leipzig Institute for Meteorology, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany
  • 2Department of Statistics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Clouds are classified into types, classes, or regimes. The World Meteorological Organization distinguishes stratus and cumulus clouds and three altitude layers. Cloud types exhibit very different radiative properties and interact in numerous ways with aerosol particles in the atmosphere. However, it has proven difficult to define cloud regimes objectively and from remote sensing data, hindering the understanding we have of the processes and adjustments involved.

Building on the method we previously developed, we combine synoptic observations and passive satellite remote-sensing retrievals to constitute a database of cloud types and cloud properties to eventually train a cloud classification algorithm. The cloud type labels come from the global marine meteorological observations dataset (UK Met Office, 2006) which is comprised of near-global synoptic observations. This data record reports back information about cloud type and other meteorological quantities at the surface. The cloud classification model is built on different cloud-top and cloud optical properties (Level 2 products MOD06/MYD06 from the MODIS sensor) extracted temporally close to the observation time and on a 128km x 128km grid around the synoptic observation location. To make full use of the large quantity of remote sensing data available and to investigate the variety in cloud settings, a convolutional variational auto-encoder (VAE) is applied as a dimensionality reduction tool in a first step. Furthermore, such model architecture allows to account for spatial relationships while describing non-linear patterns in the input data. The cloud classification task is subsequently performed drawing on the constructed latent representation of the VAE. Associating information from underneath and above the cloud enables to build a robust model to classify cloud types. For the training we specify a study domain in the Atlantic ocean around the equator and evaluate the method globally. Further experiments and evaluation are done on simulation data produced by the ICON model.

How to cite: Lenhardt, J., Quaas, J., and Sejdinovic, D.: From MODIS cloud properties to cloud types using semi-supervised learning, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-13250,, 2023.

Supplementary materials

Supplementary material file