3D cloud envelope and cloud development velocity from simulated CLOUD (C3IEL) stereo images

Dandini, Paolo ; Cornet, Céline ; Binet, Renaud ; Fenouil, Laetitia ; Holodovsky, Vadim ; Y. Schechner, Yoav ; Ricard, Didier ; Rosenfeld, Daniel

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<p align=justify>A method to derive the 3D cloud envelope and the cloud development velocity from high spatial and temporal resolution satellite imagery is presented. The CLOUD instrument of the recently proposed C3IEL mission lends itself well to observing at high spatial and temporal resolutions the development of convective cells. Space-borne visible cameras simultaneously image, under multiple view angles, the same surface domain every 20 s over a time interval of 200 s. In this paper, we present a method for retrieving cloud development velocity from simulated multi-angular, high-resolution top of the atmosphere (TOA) radiance cloud fields. The latter are obtained via the image renderer Mitsuba for a cumulus case generated via the atmospheric research model SAM and via the radiative transfer model 3DMCPOL, coupled with the outputs of an orbit, attitude, and camera simulator for a deep convective cloud case generated via the atmospheric research model Meso-NH. Matching cloud features are found between simulations via block matching. Image coordinates of tie points are mapped to spatial coordinates via 3D stereo reconstruction of the external cloud envelope for each acquisition. The accuracy of the retrieval of cloud topography is quantified in terms of RMSE and bias that are, respectively, less than 25 and 5 m for the horizontal components and less than 40 and 25 m for the vertical components. The inter-acquisition 3D velocity is then derived for each pair of tie points separated by 20 s. An independent method based on minimising the RMSE for a continuous horizontal shift of the cloud top, issued from the atmospheric research model, allows for the obtainment of a ground estimate of the velocity from two consecutive acquisitions. The mean values of the distributions of the stereo and ground velocities exhibit small biases. The width of the distributions is significantly different, with higher a distribution width for the stereo-retrieved velocity. An alternative way to derive an average velocity over 200 s, which relies on tracking clusters of points via image feature matching over several acquisitions, was also implemented and tested. For each cluster of points, mean stereo and ground positions were derived every 20 s over 200 s. The mean stereo and ground velocities, obtained as the slope of the line of best fit to the mean positions, are in good agreement.</p>
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