Calvin Murdock, Nathan Jacobs, Robert Pless
Satellite imagery of cloud cover is extremely important for understanding and predicting weather. We demonstrate how this imagery can be constructed “from the ground up” without requiring expensive geo-stationary satellites. This is accomplished through a novel approach to approximate continental-scale cloud maps using only ground-level imagery from publicly-available webcams. We collected a year’s worth of satellite data and simultaneously-captured, geo-located outdoor webcam images from 4388 sparsely distributed cameras across the continental USA. The satellite data is used to train a dynamic model of cloud motion alongside 4388 regression models (one for each camera) to relate ground-level webcam data to the satellite data at the camera’s location. This novel application of large-scale computer vision to meteorology and remote sensing is enabled by a smoothed, hierarchically-regularized dynamic texture model whose system dynamics are driven to remain consistent with measurements from the geo-located webcams. We show that our hierarchical model is better able to incorporate sparse webcam measurements resulting in more accurate cloud maps in comparison to a standard dynamic textures implementation. Finally, we demonstrate that our model can be successfully applied to other natural image sequences from the DynTex database, suggesting a broader applicability of our method.