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The Diurnal Cycle of Outgoing Longwave Radiation from Earth Radiation Budget Experiment Measurements

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  • 1 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia
  • | 2 Analytical Services and Materials, Inc., Hampton, Virginia
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Abstract

The diurnal cycle of outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) from the earth is analyzed by decomposing satellite observations into a set of empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs). The observations are from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) scanning radiometer aboard the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite, which had a precessing orbit with 57° inclination. The diurnal cycles of land and ocean differ considerably. The first EOF for land accounts for 73% to 85% of the variance, whereas the first EOF for ocean accounts for only 16% to 20% of the variance, depending on season. The diurnal cycle for land is surprisingly symmetric about local noon for the first EOF, which is approximately a half-sine during day and flat at night. The second EOF describes lead–lag effects due to surface heating and cloud formation. For the ocean, the first EOF and second EOF are similar to that of land, except for spring, when the first ocean EOF is a semidiurnal cycle and the second ocean EOF is the half-sine. The first EOF for land has a daytime peak of about 50 W m−2, whereas the first ocean EOF peaks at about 25 W m−2. The geographical and seasonal patterns of OLR diurnal cycle provide insights into the interaction of radiation with the atmosphere and surface and are useful for validating and upgrading circulation models.

Corresponding author address: G. Louis Smith, Mail Stop 420, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA 23681. Email: g.l.smith@larc.nasa.gov

Abstract

The diurnal cycle of outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) from the earth is analyzed by decomposing satellite observations into a set of empirical orthogonal functions (EOFs). The observations are from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) scanning radiometer aboard the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite, which had a precessing orbit with 57° inclination. The diurnal cycles of land and ocean differ considerably. The first EOF for land accounts for 73% to 85% of the variance, whereas the first EOF for ocean accounts for only 16% to 20% of the variance, depending on season. The diurnal cycle for land is surprisingly symmetric about local noon for the first EOF, which is approximately a half-sine during day and flat at night. The second EOF describes lead–lag effects due to surface heating and cloud formation. For the ocean, the first EOF and second EOF are similar to that of land, except for spring, when the first ocean EOF is a semidiurnal cycle and the second ocean EOF is the half-sine. The first EOF for land has a daytime peak of about 50 W m−2, whereas the first ocean EOF peaks at about 25 W m−2. The geographical and seasonal patterns of OLR diurnal cycle provide insights into the interaction of radiation with the atmosphere and surface and are useful for validating and upgrading circulation models.

Corresponding author address: G. Louis Smith, Mail Stop 420, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA 23681. Email: g.l.smith@larc.nasa.gov

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