Twenty-five years of cloud base height measurements by ceilometer in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard

Marion.Maturilli [ at ]


Clouds are a key factor for the Arctic amplification of global warming, but their actual appearance and distribution are still afflicted by large uncertainty. On the Arctic-wide scale, large discrepancies are found between the various reanalyses and satellite products, respectively. Although ground-based observations by remote sensing are limited to point measurements, they have the advantage of obtaining extended time series of vertically resolved cloud properties. Here, we present a 25-year data record of cloud base height measured by ceilometer at the Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, Arctic site. We explain the composition of the three sub-periods with different instrumentation contributing to the data set, and show examples of potential application areas. Linked to cyclonic activity, the cloud base height provides essential information for the interpretation of the surface radiation balance and contributes to the understanding of meteorological processes. Furthermore, it is a useful auxiliary component for the analysis of advanced technologies that provide insight into cloud microphysical properties, like the cloud radar. The long-term time series also allows derivation of an annual cycle of the cloud occurrence frequency, revealing the more frequent cloud cover in summer and the lowest cloud cover amount in April. However, as the use of different ceilometer instruments over the years potentially imposed inhomogeneities onto the data record, any long-term trend analysis should be avoided. The Ny-Ålesund cloud base height data from August 1992 to July 2017 are provided in a high temporal resolution of 5min (1min) before (after) July 1998, respectively, at the PANGAEA repository (

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Research Networks
Peer revision
ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.5194/essd-10-1451-2018

Cite as
Maturilli, M. and Ebell, K. (2018): Twenty-five years of cloud base height measurements by ceilometer in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard , Earth System Science Data, 10 , pp. 1451-1456 . doi: 10.5194/essd-10-1451-2018


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