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Effects of Surface Albedo on Cloud and Radiation Processes in Cloud-Resolving Model Simulations

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  • 1 Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
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Abstract

The relationship among the surface albedo, cloud properties, and radiative fluxes is investigated for the first time using a year-long cloud-resolving model (CRM) simulation with the prescribed evolving surface albedo. In comparison with the run using a fixed surface albedo, the CRM with the observed surface albedo represents the shortwave radiative budget closer to the observations in the winter. The greater surface albedo induces weaker instability in the low troposphere so that the amount of low clouds decreases during the winter. This reduces the shortwave and longwave cloud radiative forcing at the surface. The analysis of the CRM simulations with the evolving surface albedo reveals that there is a critical value (0.35) of the surface albedo. For albedos greater than the critical value, the upward shortwave flux at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) is positively proportional to the surface albedos when optically thin clouds exist, and is not much affected by reflection on the cloud top. If optically thick clouds occur and the surface albedo is greater than the critical value, the upward shortwave flux at the TOA is significantly influenced by the reflection of cloud top, but not much affected by the surface albedo. In addition, for albedos larger than the critical value, the downward shortwave flux at the surface is primarily influenced by the surface albedo and the reflection from the cloud base if optically thick clouds occur. However, the downward shortwave flux at the surface is not significantly affected by the surface albedo when optically thin clouds exist because the reflection on the cloud base is weak. When surface albedos are less than the critical value, those relationships among surface albedo, shortwave flux, and cloud properties are not obvious. The surface albedo effect on shortwave flux increases as solar zenith angle (SZA) decreases, but its dependence on the SZA is negligible when optically thick clouds exist.

Corresponding author address: Sunwook Park, Iowa State University, 3010 Agronomy Hall, Ames, IA 50011. Email: wsunwook@iastate.edu

Abstract

The relationship among the surface albedo, cloud properties, and radiative fluxes is investigated for the first time using a year-long cloud-resolving model (CRM) simulation with the prescribed evolving surface albedo. In comparison with the run using a fixed surface albedo, the CRM with the observed surface albedo represents the shortwave radiative budget closer to the observations in the winter. The greater surface albedo induces weaker instability in the low troposphere so that the amount of low clouds decreases during the winter. This reduces the shortwave and longwave cloud radiative forcing at the surface. The analysis of the CRM simulations with the evolving surface albedo reveals that there is a critical value (0.35) of the surface albedo. For albedos greater than the critical value, the upward shortwave flux at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) is positively proportional to the surface albedos when optically thin clouds exist, and is not much affected by reflection on the cloud top. If optically thick clouds occur and the surface albedo is greater than the critical value, the upward shortwave flux at the TOA is significantly influenced by the reflection of cloud top, but not much affected by the surface albedo. In addition, for albedos larger than the critical value, the downward shortwave flux at the surface is primarily influenced by the surface albedo and the reflection from the cloud base if optically thick clouds occur. However, the downward shortwave flux at the surface is not significantly affected by the surface albedo when optically thin clouds exist because the reflection on the cloud base is weak. When surface albedos are less than the critical value, those relationships among surface albedo, shortwave flux, and cloud properties are not obvious. The surface albedo effect on shortwave flux increases as solar zenith angle (SZA) decreases, but its dependence on the SZA is negligible when optically thick clouds exist.

Corresponding author address: Sunwook Park, Iowa State University, 3010 Agronomy Hall, Ames, IA 50011. Email: wsunwook@iastate.edu

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