Vertical profiles of cloud microphysical data and longwave and shortwave radiation measurements through the marine boundary layer were obtained using an instrument package on the NASA tethered balloon during the FIRE Marine Stratocumulus Experiment. The radiation observations were analyzed to determine heating rates inside the stratocumulus clouds during several tethered balloon flights. The radiation fields in the cloud layer were also simulated by a two-stream radiative transfer model, which used cloud optical properties derived from microphysical measurements and Mie scattering theory.

The vertical profiles of the observed longwave cooling rates were similar in structure and magnitude not only to previous measurements of marine stratocumulus, but also to the cooling rates computed by the two-stream radiative transfer model. The solar heating rates measured in the clouds, however, were systematically much larger than the rates calculated in the model.

Solar albedo measurements showed that the visible spectrum tended to be reflected by the clouds more than the near IR spectrum. This is similar to the results reported by Hignett, although the discrepancies between the observed and calculated near IR to visible albedo ratios were generally much smaller. The results from the flights on 10 and 13 July 1987, however, suggest that the effects of heterogeneities on the radiative transfer through the cloud may be more important in the visible than in the new IR.

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