In satellite imagery, isn't cloud removal supposed to be performed while atmospheric correction?

My question arises from the fact that even though these Landsat images are atmospherically corrected, why does the following images still contain clouds (right side)? (taken from the same website)enter image description here

I think I have misunderstood what atmospheric correction means? Can anyone clarify.

PS: I am new to remote sensing (CS graduate) and working on Change detection in satellite images. I am currently exploring atmospheric correction in the pre processing phase but am unable to find any good literature for the task.


Atmospheric correction means removing absorption effects of e.g. water vapor and aerosols from the image. This can be done if you know the gas/aerosol concentration and their absorption properties for radiation at various wavelengths.

Clouds, however, are condensed water vapor and they scatter the light from the sun due to Mie's law. This means in effect that they obscur the ground for the satellite. This cannot be removed as there is (at wavelengths you consider) no way to look through the clouds. For your purposes, you should apply/use the Landsat cloud mask.

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  • Is haze removal related to cloud removal in any way? – Nancy Oct 30 '15 at 11:37
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    The haze removal might work on haze (as the name says), but not on clouds. – countryman Oct 30 '15 at 13:02
  • Could you give a fundamental(not the specifics) explanation of what a cloud mask is? – Nancy Oct 30 '15 at 13:22
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    A cloud mask is a raster file that tells for which pixels in the related bands a cloud cover is detected (by the algorithm used). In the best case, the cloud mask even distinguishes different cloud types. – countryman Nov 10 '15 at 21:55

Atmospheric corrections don't deal with clouds, they rather deal with differences between observed and real data caused by atmosphere. This might be a good read to start with.

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