Articles | Volume 9, issue 2
Research article
24 Feb 2016
Research article |  | 24 Feb 2016

Software to analyze the relationship between aerosol, clouds, and precipitation: SAMAC

S. Gagné, L. P. MacDonald, W. R. Leaitch, and J. R. Pierce

Abstract. The analysis of aircraft-based measurements of clouds is critical for studies of aerosol and of clouds. Many such measurements have been taken, but it is difficult to compare such data across instruments, flights and campaigns. We present a new open-source software program, SAMAC (Software for Airborne Measurements of Aerosol and Clouds), that may enable a more systematic and comparable approach to the analysis of aerosol–cloud–precipitation data. The software offers a cooperative and reproducible approach to the analysis of aircraft measurements of clouds across campaigns. SAMAC is an object-oriented software program in which a cloud is an object; all the data related to a cloud is contained in the cloud object. The cloud objects come with built-in methods and functions that allow for the quick generation of basic plots and calculations, SAMAC provides a quick view of the data set and may be used to compare clouds and to filter for specific characteristics. Other researchers can readily use already submitted algorithms once their data is placed in the cloud structure provided, and they can contribute their own algorithms to the software for others to see and use. This approach would improve comparability, reproducibility and transparency by allowing others to replicate results and test the same algorithms on different data. SAMAC can be downloaded at

Short summary
Measurements of clouds with an aircraft are essential to understand how clouds form and how they affect the Earth's climate. These measurements are used in climate models to help predict how our climate might develop in the next century. Aircraft measurements are, however, difficult for modellers to interpret because the way they were acquired and analyzed varies from one team of scientists to the next. We present a software platform for scientists to share and compare their analysis tools.