In meteorology, an okta is a unit of measurement used to describe the amount of cloud cover at any given location such as a weather station. Sky conditions are estimated in terms of how many eighths of the sky are covered in cloud, ranging from 0 oktas (completely clear sky) through to 8 oktas (completely overcast). In addition, in the SYNOP code there is an extra cloud cover indicator '9' indicating that the sky is totally obscured (i.e. hidden from view), usually due to dense fog or heavy snow. When used in weather charts, okta measurements are shown by means of graphic symbols (rather than numerals) contained within weather circles, to which are attached further symbols indicating other measured data such as wind speed and wind direction. Although relatively straightforward to measure (visually, for instance, by using a mirror), oktas only estimate cloud cover in terms of the area of the sky covered by clouds. They do not account for cloud type or thickness, and this limits their use for estimating cloud albedo or surface solar radiation receipt.
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