Characteristics of cloud occurrence using ceilometer measurements and its relationship to precipitation over Seoul

Sanghee Lee, Seung On Hwang, Jhoon Kim, Myoung Hwan Ahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Clouds are an important component of the atmosphere that affects both climate and weather, however, their contributions can be very difficult to determine. Ceilometer measurements can provide high resolution information on atmospheric conditions such as cloud base height (CBH) and vertical frequency of cloud occurrence (CVF). This study presents the first comprehensive analysis of CBH and CVF derived using Vaisala CL51 ceilometers at two urban stations in Seoul, Korea, during a three-year period from January 2014 to December 2016. The average frequency of cloud occurrence detected by the ceilometers is 54.3%. It is found that the CL51 is better able to capture CBH as compared to another ceilometer CL31 at a nearby meteorological station because it could detect high clouds more accurately. Frequency distributions for CBH up to 13,000 m providing detailed vertical features with 500-m interval show 55% of CBHs below 2 km for aggregated CBHs. A bimodal frequency distribution was observed for three-layers CBHs. A monthly variation of CVF reveals that frequency concentration of lower clouds is found in summer and winter, and higher clouds more often detected in spring and autumn. Monthly distribution features of cloud occurrence and precipitation are depending on seasons and it might be easy to define their relationship due to higher degree of variability of precipitation than cloud occurrence. However, a fluctuation of cloud occurrence frequency in summer is similar to precipitation in trend, whereas clouds in winter are relatively frequent but precipitation is not accompanied. In addition, recent decrease of summer precipitation could be mostly explained by a decrease of cloud occurrence. Anomalous precipitation recorded sometimes is considerably related to corresponding cloud occurrence. The diurnal and daily variations of CBH and CVF from ceilometer observations and the analysis of microwave radiometer measurements for two typical cloudiness cases are also reviewed in parallel. This analysis in finer temporal scale exhibits that utilization of ground-based observations together could help to analyze the cloud behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-57
Number of pages12
JournalAtmospheric Research
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Ceilometer
  • Cloud base height
  • Cloud occurrence
  • Cloud vertical frequency
  • Microwave radiometer


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