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Patrick Minnis, J. Kirk Ayers, Michele L. Nordeen, and Steven P. Weaver

Abstract

Contrails have the potential for affecting climate because they impact the radiation budget and the vertical distribution of moisture. Estimating the effect requires additional knowledge about the temporal and spatial variations of contrails. The mean hourly, monthly, and annual frequencies of daytime contrail occurrence are estimated using 2 yr of observations from surface observers at military installations scattered over the continental United States. During both years, persistent contrails are most prevalent in the winter and early spring and are seen least often during the summer. They co-occur with cirrus clouds 85% of the time. The annual mean persistent contrail frequencies in unobscured skies dropped from 0.152 during 1993–94 to 0.124 in 1998–99 despite a rise in air traffic. Mean hourly contrail frequencies reflect the pattern of commercial air traffic, with a rapid increase from sunrise to midmorning followed by a very gradual decrease during the remaining daylight hours. Although highly correlated with air traffic fuel use, contrail occurrence is governed by meteorological conditions. It is negatively and positively correlated with the monthly mean 300-hPa temperature and 300-hPa relative humidity, respectively, from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalyses. A simple empirical model employing the fuel use and the monthly mean 300-hPa temperatures and relative humidities yields a reasonable representation of the seasonal variation in contrail frequency. The interannual drop in contrail frequency coincides with a decrease in mean 300-hPa relative humidities from 45.8% during the first period to 38.2% in 1998–99, one of the driest periods in the NCEP record.

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David R. Doelling, Moguo Sun, Le Trang Nguyen, Michele L. Nordeen, Conor O. Haney, Dennis F. Keyes, and Pamela E. Mlynczak

Abstract

The Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) project has provided the climate community 15 years of globally observed top-of-the-atmosphere fluxes critical for climate and cloud feedback studies. To accurately monitor the earth’s radiation budget, the CERES instrument footprint fluxes must be spatially and temporally averaged properly. The CERES synoptic 1° (SYN1deg) product incorporates derived fluxes from the geostationary satellites (GEOs) to account for the regional diurnal flux variations in between Terra and Aqua CERES measurements. The Edition 4 CERES reprocessing effort has provided the opportunity to reevaluate the derivation of longwave (LW) fluxes from GEO narrowband radiances by examining the improvements from incorporating 1-hourly versus 3-hourly GEO data, additional GEO infrared (IR) channels, and multichannel GEO cloud properties. The resultant GEO LW fluxes need to be consistent across the 16-satellite climate data record. To that end, the addition of the water vapor channel, available on all GEOs, was more effective than using a reanalysis dataset’s column-weighted relative humidity combined with the window channel radiance. The benefit of the CERES LW angular directional model to derive fluxes was limited by the inconsistency of the GEO cloud retrievals. Greater success was found in the direct conversion of window and water vapor channel radiances into fluxes. Incorporating 1-hourly GEO fluxes had the greatest impact on improving the accuracy of high-temporal-resolution fluxes, and normalizing the GEO LW fluxes with CERES greatly reduced the monthly regional LW flux bias.

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David R. Doelling, Norman G. Loeb, Dennis F. Keyes, Michele L. Nordeen, Daniel Morstad, Cathy Nguyen, Bruce A. Wielicki, David F. Young, and Moguo Sun

Abstract

The Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instruments on board the Terra and Aqua spacecraft continue to provide an unprecedented global climate record of the earth’s top-of-atmosphere (TOA) energy budget since March 2000. A critical step in determining accurate daily averaged flux involves estimating the flux between CERES Terra or Aqua overpass times. CERES employs the CERES-only (CO) and the CERES geostationary (CG) temporal interpolation methods. The CO method assumes that the cloud properties at the time of the CERES observation remain constant and that it only accounts for changes in albedo with solar zenith angle and diurnal land heating, by assuming a shape for unresolved changes in the diurnal cycle. The CG method enhances the CERES data by explicitly accounting for changes in cloud and radiation between CERES observation times using 3-hourly imager data from five geostationary (GEO) satellites. To maintain calibration traceability, GEO radiances are calibrated against Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and the derived GEO fluxes are normalized to the CERES measurements. While the regional (1° latitude × 1° longitude) monthly-mean difference between the CG and CO methods can exceed 25 W m−2 over marine stratus and land convection, these regional biases nearly cancel in the global mean. The regional monthly CG shortwave (SW) and longwave (LW) flux uncertainty is reduced by 20%, whereas the daily uncertainty is reduced by 50% and 20%, respectively, over the CO method, based on comparisons with 15-min Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB) data.

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