In tropical areas, the difficulty of obtaining cloud-free satellite imagery is a well-documented phenomenon (Asner 2001; Helmer and Ruefenacht 2005; Mouginis-Mark et al. 2001; Wijedasa et al. 2012; Wu et al. 2013). This is no different for Panama’s North-Central coast, an area just chosen for a large-scale copper and gold mine whose construction and operation will be studied by the McGill Research Group Investigating Canadian Mining in Latin America (MICLA). Currently in the preliminary stages of a 30-year investigation into the new mine’s impact on land- use change in Coclesito and Petaquilla, Panama, MICLA is seeking to establish a historic baseline of regional land cover from the 1970s to the present. Cloud cover is a serious obstacle to the creation of a regional land-use change study. Even in Landsat imagery with low cloud cover (<10%), clouds often obscure the relatively small study area.

In order to overcome the issue of high cloud cover in a tropical area, the question must be must be asked “what is the spatial distribution of cloud cover on ‘clear’ days over Coclesito and Petaquilla, Panama?” The objective of this study is to present annual and seasonal cloud cover distribution over this area in order as a preliminary step for a single-area, multi-image compositing system.

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