Abstract
In this paper, the effect of cloud structure on column absorption by water vapor is investigated. Radiative fluxes above and below horizontally inhomogeneous liquid water clouds are computed using an efficient Monte Carlo technique, the independent pixel approximation, and plane-parallel theory. Cloud inhomogeneity is simulated by two related fractal models that use bounded cascades for the horizontal distribution of optical depth. The first (“clumpy”) model has constant cloud top and base, hence a constant geometrical thickness but varying extinction; the second (“bumpy”) model has constant extinction and cloud base, hence variable cloud-top and geometrical thickness. The spectral range between 0.9 and 1.0 μm (with strong water vapor absorption and negligible cloud liquid water absorption) is selected for a detailed study, not only of domain-averaged quantities, but also radiation fields. Column-absorption fields are calculated as the difference between the two net fluxes above and below clouds. It is shown that 1) redistribution of cloud liquid water decreases column absorption, that is, plane-parallel absorption is larger than the independent pixel approximation one by 1%–3%; 2) 3D radiative effects enhance column absorption by about 0.6% for the clumpy model and 2% for the bumpy model, that is, Monte Carlo absorption is larger than independent pixel approximation absorption—this effect is most pronounced for the bumpy cloud model at solar zenith angle ≈45°; and 3) plane-parallel absorption is larger than 3D Monte Carlo absorption for high solar elevations and nearly equal to it for low solar elevations. Thus, for extended clouds of thickness 1–2 km or less, in an important water vapor absorption band (0.94 μm), the authors do not find a significant enhancement of cloud absorption due to horizontal inhomogeneity.
* Current affiliation: University of Maryland–Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland.
^{+}Current affiliation: Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico.
# Current affiliation: Space Application Corporation, Vienna, Virginia.
Corresponding author address: Dr. Alexander Marshak, NASA/GSFC, Code 913, Greenbelt, MD 20771.