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Ground-based full-sky imaging polarimetry of rapidly changing skies and its use for polarimetric cloud detection

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Abstract

For elimination of the shortcomings of imaging polarimeters that take the necessary three pictures sequentially through linear-polarization filters, a three-lens, three-camera, full-sky imaging polarimeter was designed that takes the required pictures simultaneously. With this polarimeter, celestial polarization patterns can be measured even if rapid temporal changes occur in the sky: under cloudy sky conditions, or immediately after sunrise or prior to sunset. One of the possible applications of our polarimeter is the ground-based detection of clouds. With use of the additional information of the degree and the angle of polarization patterns of cloudy skies measured in the red (650 nm), green (550 nm), and blue (450 nm) spectral ranges, improved algorithms of radiometric cloud detection can be offered. We present a combined radiometric and polarimetric algorithm that performs the detection of clouds more efficiently and reliably as compared with an exclusively radiometric cloud-detection algorithm. The advantages and the limits of three-lens, three-camera, full-sky imaging polarimeters as well as the possibilities of improving our polarimetric cloud detection method are discussed briefly.

© 2002 Optical Society of America

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