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On the Absorption, Reflection and Transmission of Solar Radiation in Cloudy Atmospheres

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  • 1 Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, 84112
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Abstract

Band-by-band calculations have been carried out to evaluate the reflection, absorption and transmission of solar radiation by cloud layer and model cloudy atmospheres in the entire solar spectrum. The radiation transfer program is based on the discrete-ordinate method with applications to inhomogencous atmospheres. The gaseous absorption in scattering atmospheres is taken into account by means of exponential fits to the total band absorption based on laboratory measurements. Thick clouds such as nimbostratus. and cumulonimbus reflect 80–90% and absorb 10–20% of the solar radiation incident upon them. The reflection and absorption of a fair weather cumulus with a thickness of 0.45 km are about 68–85% and 4–9%7p, respectively. A thin stratus, whose thickness is 0.1 km, reflects about 45–72% and absorbs about 1–6% of the solar flux incident on the cloud top. The reflection of a 0.6 km thick altostratus is about 57–77%, with a larger absorption of 8–15%. A number of aircraft observations reveal that clouds may absorb as much as 30–40% of the solar flux incident upon them. Since the maximum absorption of clouds resulting from theoretical calculations is only 20%, certain clouds in the atmosphere ore likely to consist of hydrophobic absorbing aerosol particles.

Abstract

Band-by-band calculations have been carried out to evaluate the reflection, absorption and transmission of solar radiation by cloud layer and model cloudy atmospheres in the entire solar spectrum. The radiation transfer program is based on the discrete-ordinate method with applications to inhomogencous atmospheres. The gaseous absorption in scattering atmospheres is taken into account by means of exponential fits to the total band absorption based on laboratory measurements. Thick clouds such as nimbostratus. and cumulonimbus reflect 80–90% and absorb 10–20% of the solar radiation incident upon them. The reflection and absorption of a fair weather cumulus with a thickness of 0.45 km are about 68–85% and 4–9%7p, respectively. A thin stratus, whose thickness is 0.1 km, reflects about 45–72% and absorbs about 1–6% of the solar flux incident on the cloud top. The reflection of a 0.6 km thick altostratus is about 57–77%, with a larger absorption of 8–15%. A number of aircraft observations reveal that clouds may absorb as much as 30–40% of the solar flux incident upon them. Since the maximum absorption of clouds resulting from theoretical calculations is only 20%, certain clouds in the atmosphere ore likely to consist of hydrophobic absorbing aerosol particles.

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