Visible Satellite Images
a picture of the earth

Visible satellite images are photographs of the earth that provide information about cloud cover. Areas of white indicate clouds while shades of gray indicate generally clear skies. In the example below (a composite of data from GOES-8 and GOES-10 satellites), scattered clouds are found across much of the eastern United States with clearer skies from North Dakota south to Oklahoma.

Visible images represent the amount of sunlight being scattered back into space by the clouds, aerosols, atmospheric gases, and the Earth's surface. Thicker clouds have a higher reflectivity (or albedo) and appear brighter than thinner clouds on a visible image. However, it is difficult to distinguish among low, middle, and high level clouds in a visible satellite image, since they can all have a similar albedo and for this distinction, infrared satellite images are useful.

POES Satellites
Terms for using data resources. CD-ROM available.
Credits and Acknowledgments for WW2010.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

infrared (ir)