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Kopp, T. J., W. Thomas, A. K. Heidinger, D. Botambekov, R. A. Frey, K. D. Hutchison, B. D. Iisager, K. Brueske, and B. Reed (2014), The VIIRS Cloud Mask: Progress in the first year of S-NPP toward a common cloud detection scheme, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 119, 2441–2456, doi:10.1002/2013JD020458.


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States


The Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Cloud Mask (VCM) determines, on a pixel-by-pixel basis, whether or not a given location contains cloud. The VCM serves as an intermediate product (IP) between the production of VIIRS sensor data records and 22 downstream Environmental Data Records that each depends upon the VCM output. As such, the validation of the VCM IP is critical to the success of the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (S-NPP) product suite. The methods used to validate the VCM and the current results are presented in this paper. Detailed analyses of golden granules along with tools providing deep insights into granule performance, and specific cloud detection tests reveal the details behind a given granule’s performance. Matchup results with CALIPSO, in turn, indicate the large-scale performance of the VCM and whether or not it is meeting its specifications. Comparisons with other cloud masks indicate comparable performance for the determination of clear pixels. As of September 2013 the VCM is either meeting or within 2% of all of its documented requirements.