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Surface Radiation Budget and Climate Classification

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  • 1 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia
  • | 2 Analytical Services and Material, Inc., Hampton, Virginia
  • | 3 Atmospheric Sciences Division, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia
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Abstract

The surface radiation budget of a region is strongly tied to its climate. An 8-yr climatology of surface radiation budget components for 2.5° regions over the earth is examined in order to learn how the regional climate and surface radiation are related. The yearly cycles of a few individual regions were studied by plotting monthly mean net longwave flux as a function of net shortwave flux at the surface. These plots show trajectories that are characteristic of the climate class. The behavior of the trajectories of surface radiation and their relation to the regional climate can be understood with simple conceptual models for many cases.

From an examination of these trajectories, a set of parameters is developed, such as mean net longwave flux and range of net shortwave flux, which distinguish various climate classes on the basis of the surface radiation. These criteria are applied to produce a map of regional climate classes based on surface radiation, similar to those of Koeppen or Trewartha and Horn, which were based on vegetation, temperature, and precipitation. The current maps can be used to explore the relationships between surface radiation and regional climate.

Corresponding author address: Dr. G. Louis Smith, NASA Langley Research Center, Mail Stop 420, Hampton, VA 23681-2199. Email: g.l.smith@larc.nasa.gov

Abstract

The surface radiation budget of a region is strongly tied to its climate. An 8-yr climatology of surface radiation budget components for 2.5° regions over the earth is examined in order to learn how the regional climate and surface radiation are related. The yearly cycles of a few individual regions were studied by plotting monthly mean net longwave flux as a function of net shortwave flux at the surface. These plots show trajectories that are characteristic of the climate class. The behavior of the trajectories of surface radiation and their relation to the regional climate can be understood with simple conceptual models for many cases.

From an examination of these trajectories, a set of parameters is developed, such as mean net longwave flux and range of net shortwave flux, which distinguish various climate classes on the basis of the surface radiation. These criteria are applied to produce a map of regional climate classes based on surface radiation, similar to those of Koeppen or Trewartha and Horn, which were based on vegetation, temperature, and precipitation. The current maps can be used to explore the relationships between surface radiation and regional climate.

Corresponding author address: Dr. G. Louis Smith, NASA Langley Research Center, Mail Stop 420, Hampton, VA 23681-2199. Email: g.l.smith@larc.nasa.gov

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