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D. D. Turner, B. M. Lesht, S. A. Clough, J. C. Liljegren, H. E. Revercomb, and D. C. Tobin


Thousands of comparisons between total precipitable water vapor (PWV) obtained from radiosonde (Vaisala RS80-H) profiles and PWV retrieved from a collocated microwave radiometer (MWR) were made at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program's Southern Great Plains Cloud and Radiation Testbed (SGP CART) site in northern Oklahoma from 1994 to 2000. These comparisons show that the RS80-H radiosonde has an approximate 5% dry bias compared to the MWR. This observation is consistent with interpretations of Vaisala RS80 radiosonde data obtained during the Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE). In addition to the dry bias, analysis of the PWV comparisons as well as of data obtained from dual-sonde soundings done at the SGP show that the calibration of the radiosonde humidity measurements varies considerably both when the radiosondes come from different calibration batches and when the radiosondes come from the same calibration batch. This variability can result in peak-to-peak differences between radiosondes of greater than 25% in PWV. Because accurate representation of the vertical profile of water vapor is critical for ARM's science objectives, an empirical method for correcting the radiosonde humidity profiles is developed based on a constant scaling factor. By using an independent set of observations and radiative transfer models to test the correction, it is shown that the constant humidity scaling method appears both to improve the accuracy and reduce the uncertainty of the radiosonde data. The ARM data are also used to examine a different, physically based, correction scheme that was developed recently by scientists from Vaisala and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). This scheme, which addresses the dry bias problem as well as other calibration-related problems with the RS80-H sensor, results in excellent agreement between the PWV retrieved from the MWR and integrated from the corrected radiosonde. However, because the physically based correction scheme does not address the apparently random calibration variations observed, it does not reduce the variability either between radiosonde calibration batches or within individual calibration batches.

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D. D. Turner, D. C. Tobin, S. A. Clough, P. D. Brown, R. G. Ellingson, E. J. Mlawer, R. O. Knuteson, H. E. Revercomb, T. R. Shippert, W. L. Smith, and M. W. Shephard


Research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) program has led to significant improvements in longwave radiative transfer modeling over the last decade. These improvements, which have generally come in small incremental changes, were made primarily in the water vapor self- and foreign-broadened continuum and the water vapor absorption line parameters. These changes, when taken as a whole, result in up to a 6 W m−2 improvement in the modeled clear-sky downwelling longwave radiative flux at the surface and significantly better agreement with spectral observations. This paper provides an overview of the history of ARM with regard to clear-sky longwave radiative transfer, and analyzes remaining related uncertainties in the ARM state-of-the-art Line-by-Line Radiative Transfer Model (LBLRTM).

A quality measurement experiment (QME) for the downwelling infrared radiance at the ARM Southern Great Plains site has been ongoing since 1994. This experiment has three objectives: 1) to validate and improve the absorption models and spectral line parameters used in line-by-line radiative transfer models, 2) to assess the ability to define the atmospheric state, and 3) to assess the quality of the radiance observations that serve as ground truth for the model. Analysis of data from 1994 to 1997 made significant contributions to optimizing the QME, but is limited by small but significant uncertainties and deficiencies in the atmospheric state and radiance observations. This paper concentrates on the analysis of QME data from 1998 to 2001, wherein the data have been carefully selected to address the uncertainties in the 1994–97 dataset. Analysis of this newer dataset suggests that the representation of self-broadened water vapor continuum absorption is 3%–8% too strong in the 750–1000 cm−1 region. The dataset also provides information on the accuracy of the self- and foreign-broadened continuum absorption in the 1100–1300 cm−1 region. After accounting for these changes, remaining differences in modeled and observed downwelling clear-sky fluxes are less than 1.5 W m−2 over a wide range of atmospheric states.

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The Arm Program's Water Vapor Intensive Observation Periods

Overview, Initial Accomplishments, and Future Challenges

H. E. Revercomb, D. D. Turner, D. C. Tobin, R. O. Knuteson, W. F. Feltz, J. Barnard, J. Bösenberg, S. Clough, D. Cook, R. Ferrare, J. Goldsmith, S. Gutman, R. Halthore, B. Lesht, J. Liljegren, H. Linné, J. Michalsky, V. Morris, W. Porch, S. Richardson, B. Schmid, M. Splitt, T. Van Hove, E. Westwater, and D. Whiteman

A series of water vapor intensive observation periods (WVIOPs) were conducted at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) site in Oklahoma between 1996 and 2000. The goals of these WVIOPs are to characterize the accuracy of the operational water vapor observations and to develop techniques to improve the accuracy of these measurements.

The initial focus of these experiments was on the lower atmosphere, for which the goal is an absolute accuracy of better than 2% in total column water vapor, corresponding to ~1 W m−2 of infrared radiation at the surface. To complement the operational water vapor instruments during the WVIOPs, additional instrumentation including a scanning Raman lidar, microwave radiometers, chilled-mirror hygrometers, a differential absorption lidar, and ground-based solar radiometers were deployed at the ARM site. The unique datasets from the 1996, 1997, and 1999 experiments have led to many results, including the discovery and characterization of a large (> 25%) sonde-to-sonde variability in the water vapor profiles from Vaisala RS-80H radiosondes that acts like a height-independent calibration factor error. However, the microwave observations provide a stable reference that can be used to remove a large part of the sonde-to-sonde calibration variability. In situ capacitive water vapor sensors demonstrated agreement within 2% of chilled-mirror hygrometers at the surface and on an instrumented tower. Water vapor profiles retrieved from two Raman lidars, which have both been calibrated to the ARM microwave radiometer, showed agreement to within 5% for all altitudes below 8 km during two WVIOPs. The mean agreement of the total precipitable water vapor from different techniques has converged significantly from early analysis that originally showed differences up to 15%. Retrievals of total precipitable water vapor (PWV) from the ARM microwave radiometer are now found to be only 3% moister than PWV derived from new GPS results, and about 2% drier than the mean of radiosonde data after a recently defined sonde dry-bias correction is applied. Raman lidar profiles calibrated using tower-mounted chilled-mirror hygrometers confirm the expected sensitivity of microwave radiometer data to water vapor changes, but it is drier than the microwave radiometer (MWR) by 0.95 mm for all PWV amounts. However, observations from different collocated microwave radiometers have shown larger differences than expected and attempts to resolve the remaining inconsistencies (in both calibration and forward modeling) are continuing.

The paper concludes by outlining the objectives of the recent 2000 WVIOP and the ARM–First International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) Regional Experiment (FIRE) Water Vapor Experiment (AFWEX), the latter of which switched the focus to characterizing upper-tropospheric humidity measurements.

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D. D. Turner, A. M. Vogelmann, R. T. Austin, J. C. Barnard, K. Cady-Pereira, J. C. Chiu, S. A. Clough, C. Flynn, M. M. Khaiyer, J. Liljegren, K. Johnson, B. Lin, C. Long, A. Marshak, S. Y. Matrosov, S. A. McFarlane, M. Miller, Q. Min, P. Minimis, W. O'Hirok, Z. Wang, and W. Wiscombe

Many of the clouds important to the Earth's energy balance, from the Tropics to the Arctic, contain small amounts of liquid water. Longwave and shortwave radiative fluxes are very sensitive to small perturbations of the cloud liquid water path (LWP), when the LWP is small (i.e., < 100 g m−2; clouds with LWP less than this threshold will be referred to as “thin”). Thus, the radiative properties of these thin liquid water clouds must be well understood to capture them correctly in climate models. We review the importance of these thin clouds to the Earth's energy balance, and explain the difficulties in observing them. In particular, because these clouds are thin, potentially mixed phase, and often broken (i.e., have large 3D variability), it is challenging to retrieve their microphysical properties accurately. We describe a retrieval algorithm intercomparison that was conducted to evaluate the issues involved. The intercomparison used data collected at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Southern Great Plains (SGP) site and included 18 different algorithms to evaluate their retrieved LWP, optical depth, and effective radii. Surprisingly, evaluation of the simplest case, a single-layer overcast stratocumulus, revealed that huge discrepancies exist among the various techniques, even among different algorithms that are in the same general classification. This suggests that, despite considerable advances that have occurred in the field, much more work must be done, and we discuss potential avenues for future research.)

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H. W. Barker, G. L. Stephens, P. T. Partain, J. W. Bergman, B. Bonnel, K. Campana, E. E. Clothiaux, S. Clough, S. Cusack, J. Delamere, J. Edwards, K. F. Evans, Y. Fouquart, S. Freidenreich, V. Galin, Y. Hou, S. Kato, J. Li, E. Mlawer, J.-J. Morcrette, W. O'Hirok, P. Räisänen, V. Ramaswamy, B. Ritter, E. Rozanov, M. Schlesinger, K. Shibata, P. Sporyshev, Z. Sun, M. Wendisch, N. Wood, and F. Yang


The primary purpose of this study is to assess the performance of 1D solar radiative transfer codes that are used currently both for research and in weather and climate models. Emphasis is on interpretation and handling of unresolved clouds. Answers are sought to the following questions: (i) How well do 1D solar codes interpret and handle columns of information pertaining to partly cloudy atmospheres? (ii) Regardless of the adequacy of their assumptions about unresolved clouds, do 1D solar codes perform as intended?

One clear-sky and two plane-parallel, homogeneous (PPH) overcast cloud cases serve to elucidate 1D model differences due to varying treatments of gaseous transmittances, cloud optical properties, and basic radiative transfer. The remaining four cases involve 3D distributions of cloud water and water vapor as simulated by cloud-resolving models. Results for 25 1D codes, which included two line-by-line (LBL) models (clear and overcast only) and four 3D Monte Carlo (MC) photon transport algorithms, were submitted by 22 groups. Benchmark, domain-averaged irradiance profiles were computed by the MC codes. For the clear and overcast cases, all MC estimates of top-of-atmosphere albedo, atmospheric absorptance, and surface absorptance agree with one of the LBL codes to within ±2%. Most 1D codes underestimate atmospheric absorptance by typically 15–25 W m–2 at overhead sun for the standard tropical atmosphere regardless of clouds.

Depending on assumptions about unresolved clouds, the 1D codes were partitioned into four genres: (i) horizontal variability, (ii) exact overlap of PPH clouds, (iii) maximum/random overlap of PPH clouds, and (iv) random overlap of PPH clouds. A single MC code was used to establish conditional benchmarks applicable to each genre, and all MC codes were used to establish the full 3D benchmarks. There is a tendency for 1D codes to cluster near their respective conditional benchmarks, though intragenre variances typically exceed those for the clear and overcast cases. The majority of 1D codes fall into the extreme category of maximum/random overlap of PPH clouds and thus generally disagree with full 3D benchmark values. Given the fairly limited scope of these tests and the inability of any one code to perform extremely well for all cases begs the question that a paradigm shift is due for modeling 1D solar fluxes for cloudy atmospheres.

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Yubao Liu, Thomas T. Warner, James F. Bowers, Laurie P. Carson, Fei Chen, Charles A. Clough, Christopher A. Davis, Craig H. Egeland, Scott F. Halvorson, Terrence W. Huck Jr., Leo Lachapelle, Robert E. Malone, Daran L. Rife, Rong-Shyang Sheu, Scott P. Swerdlin, and Dean S. Weingarten


Given the rapid increase in the use of operational mesoscale models to satisfy different specialized needs, it is important for the community to share ideas and solutions for meeting the many associated challenges that encompass science, technology, education, and training. As a contribution toward this objective, this paper begins a series that reports on the characteristics and performance of an operational mesogamma-scale weather analysis and forecasting system that has been developed for use by the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command. During the more than five years that this four-dimensional weather system has been in use at seven U.S. Army test ranges, valuable experience has been gained about the production and effective use of high-resolution model products for satisfying a variety of needs. This paper serves as a foundation for the rest of the papers in the series by describing the operational requirements for the system, the data assimilation and forecasting system characteristics, and the forecaster training that is required for the finescale products to be used effectively.

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