Radiative Fluxes in the ECHAM5 General Circulation Model

Martin Wild Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH, Zurich, Switzerland

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Erich Roeckner Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

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Abstract

Radiative fluxes in the ECHAM5 general circulation model (GCM) are evaluated using both surface and satellite-based observations. The fluxes at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) are generally in good agreement with the satellite data. Larger deviations in simulated cloud forcing are found especially at lower latitudes where the shortwave component within the intertropical convergence zone is overestimated during boreal summer and underestimated in the marine stratocumulus regimes, especially during boreal winter. At the surface the biases in the radiative fluxes are significantly smaller than in earlier versions of the same model and in other GCMs. The shortwave clear-sky fluxes are shown to be in good agreement with newly derived observational estimates. Compared to the preceding model version, ECHAM4, the spurious absorption of solar radiation in the cloudy atmosphere disappears due to the higher resolution in the near-infrared bands of the shortwave radiation code. This reduces the biases with respect to collocated surface and TOA observations. It is illustrated that remaining biases in atmospheric absorption may be related to the crude aerosol climatology, which does not account for high loadings of absorbing aerosol such as from biomass burning, whereas the biases disappear in areas and seasons where aerosol effects are less important. In the longwave, the introduction of the Rapid Radiative Transfer Model (RRTM) radiation code leads to an increase in the longwave downward flux at the surface at high latitudes, thereby reducing biases typically found in GCMs. The considerable skill in the simulation of the fluxes at the earth’s surface underlines the suitability of ECHAM5 as an atmospheric component of an integrated earth system model.

Corresponding author address: Martin Wild, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Universitaetsstr. 16, CH-8092, Zurich, Switzerland. Email: martin.wild@env.ethz.ch

Abstract

Radiative fluxes in the ECHAM5 general circulation model (GCM) are evaluated using both surface and satellite-based observations. The fluxes at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) are generally in good agreement with the satellite data. Larger deviations in simulated cloud forcing are found especially at lower latitudes where the shortwave component within the intertropical convergence zone is overestimated during boreal summer and underestimated in the marine stratocumulus regimes, especially during boreal winter. At the surface the biases in the radiative fluxes are significantly smaller than in earlier versions of the same model and in other GCMs. The shortwave clear-sky fluxes are shown to be in good agreement with newly derived observational estimates. Compared to the preceding model version, ECHAM4, the spurious absorption of solar radiation in the cloudy atmosphere disappears due to the higher resolution in the near-infrared bands of the shortwave radiation code. This reduces the biases with respect to collocated surface and TOA observations. It is illustrated that remaining biases in atmospheric absorption may be related to the crude aerosol climatology, which does not account for high loadings of absorbing aerosol such as from biomass burning, whereas the biases disappear in areas and seasons where aerosol effects are less important. In the longwave, the introduction of the Rapid Radiative Transfer Model (RRTM) radiation code leads to an increase in the longwave downward flux at the surface at high latitudes, thereby reducing biases typically found in GCMs. The considerable skill in the simulation of the fluxes at the earth’s surface underlines the suitability of ECHAM5 as an atmospheric component of an integrated earth system model.

Corresponding author address: Martin Wild, Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Universitaetsstr. 16, CH-8092, Zurich, Switzerland. Email: martin.wild@env.ethz.ch

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