Cloud detection and visibility estimation using thermal camera images during night time

Portenier, Céline; Ott, Beat; Wellig, Peter; Wunderle, Stefan (17 October 2019). Cloud detection and visibility estimation using thermal camera images during night time. Proceedings of SPIE - International Society for Optical Engineering, 11158, p. 5. SPIE 10.1117/12.2533237

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Reduced visibility and adverse cloud cover is a major issue for aviation, road traffic, and military activities. Synoptic meteorological stations and LIDAR measurements are common tools to detect meteorological conditions. However, a low density of meteorological stations and LIDAR measurements may limit a detailed spatial analysis. While geostationary satellite data is a valuable source of information for analyzing the spatio-temporal variability of fog and clouds on a global scale, considerable effort is still required to improve the detection of atmospheric variables on a local scale, especially during the night. In this study we propose to use thermal camera images to (1) improve cloud detection and (2) to study visibility conditions during nighttime. For this purpose, we leverage FLIR A320 and FLIR A655sc Stationary Thermal Imagers installed in the city of Bern, Switzerland. We find that the proposed data provides detailed information about low clouds and the cloud base height that is usually not seen by satellites. However, clouds with a small optical depth such as thin cirrus clouds are difficult to detect as the noise level of the captured thermal images is high. The second part of this study focuses on the detection of structural features. Predefined targets such as roof windows, an antenna, or a small church tower are selected at distances of 140m to 1210m from the camera. We distinguish between active targets (heated targets or targets with insufficient thermal insulation) and passive structural features to analyze the sensor’s visibility range. We have found that a successful detection of some passive structural features highly depends on incident solar radiation. Therefore, the detection of such features is often hindered during the night. On the other hand, active targets can be detected without difficulty during the night due to major differences in temperature between the heated target and its surrounding non-heated objects. We retrieve response values by the cross-correlation of master edge signatures of the targets and the actual edge-detected thermal camera image. These response values are a precise indicator of the atmospheric conditions and allows us to detect restricted visibility conditions.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Remote Sensing
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Portenier, Céline and Wunderle, Stefan

Subjects:

500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology

ISSN:

0277-786X

Publisher:

SPIE

Language:

English

Submitter:

Céline Portenier

Date Deposited:

28 Nov 2019 13:31

Last Modified:

08 Dec 2019 02:45

Publisher DOI:

10.1117/12.2533237

Uncontrolled Keywords:

thermal infrared, cloud cover, visibility range

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.134900

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/134900

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