Abstract

A simple and inexpensive fully automated all-sky imaging system based on a commercial digital camera with a fish-eye lens and a rotating polarizer is presented. The system is characterized and two examples of applications in atmospheric physics are given: polarization maps and cloud detection. All-sky polarization maps are obtained by acquiring images at different polarizer angles and computing Stokes vectors. The polarization in the principal plane, a vertical cut through the sky containing the Sun, is compared to measurements of a well-characterized spectroradiometer with polarized radiance optics to validate the method. The images are further used for automated cloud detection using a simple color- ratio algorithm. The resulting cloud cover is validated against synoptic cloud observations. A Sun coverage parameter is introduced that shows, in combination with the total cloud cover, useful correlation with UV irradiance.

© 2009 Optical Society of America

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