“We must, however, warn the young student of meteorology … against limiting his conceptions of the Modifications to the particular [cloud] forms here represented; A correct comprehension of the subject is only to be obtained by a habitual observation of nature.” (Howard viii)
Welcome to my thesis! This part of my website is constantly being updated so keep checking back for more information.
My thesis builds off of research I did during the summer with Jessica Kleiss, Professor of Environmental Studies at Lewis & Clark College. This research examines the production process behind cloud identification and the network of tools, algorithms, and instruments that shape our understanding. Clouds are an integral component of our atmosphere and are involved in complex interactions that regulate the climate of our Earth. It is necessary to have a comprehensive observational record of both cloud type and cloud cover in order to document temporal changes, better understand atmospheric processes, and to validate with model’s predictions. Most standard cloud classes are based off of primarily visual cues which makes both manual and instrumental observations difficult. Constructing an automated cloud classification algorithm for sky images confronts problems of observational subjectivity and examines the validity of technological solutions. Confronting this problem by examining the production process within a specific cloud observing technology and method of automatic cloud identification leads to the conclusion that we can not objectively measure reality, but rather construct representations that further our knowledge.
Test yourself on the cloud types and cloud cover in this movie of one day in the life of a Total Sky Imager!
The quote above is from Luke Howards’s Essay on the Modification of Clouds, which was first published in 1803, and defines the cloud classes that we use today. Of course, I find this ironic given that I am studying photographs of clouds 1,500 miles away and trying to get a computer to classify them for me.