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Eric A. Smith
and
Lei Shi

Abstract

The role of the Tibetan Plateau on the behavior of the surface longwave radiation budget is examined, and the behavior of the vertical profile of longwave cooling over the plateau, including its diurnal variation, is quantified. The investigation has been conducted with the aid of datasets obtained during the 1986 Tibetan Plateau Meteorological Experiment (TIPMEX-86). A medium spectral-resolution infrared radiative transfer model using a simple modification for applications in idealized complex (valley) terrain is developed for the study. This study focuses on the clear-sky case where the surface effects are most significant.

The TIPMEX-86 data, obtained during the spring-summer transition into the East Asian monsoon season, are used to help validate the surface longwave radiation budget at two sites of varying elevation: Lasa (3650 m) and Naqu (4500 m). Based on the degree to which skin-temperature boundary conditions control the magnitude of infrared cooling, we define the concept of relative longwave heating and explain its influence on the vertical infrared cooling-rate profile. Relative longwave radiative heating at the higher-elevation Naqu site is found to be twice as large as that corresponding to the lower-elevation Lasa site located within a valley. Besides reducing the infrared cooling rates, it is shown that relative longwave heating extends the period of the day over which the plateau acts as a direct heat source to the atmosphere. Computational results from the infrared model help substantiate observational analyses that indicate surface longwave net radiation at the high-elevation site, on clear days, exceeds 300 W m−2; this is an order of magnitude greater than typical of sea-level oceanic conditions. As a result of the unique meteorological and surface conditions, total infrared flux convergence occurs within the deep planetary boundary layer (i.e., infrared heating of the cloud-free lower atmosphere) at the high-elevation site during the afternoon. An important characteristic of the daytime longwave heating process of the lower layers is how it turns off like a switch at approximately 1800 MST, transforming almost immediately to maximum cooling of the lower layers.

Atmospheric longwave cooling is significantly influenced by variations in the biophysical composition of the surface and the associated thermal diurnal cycle. It is estimated that natural variations of surface emissivity could modulate longwave cooling by up to 40%. The largest impact would occur at a time when the surface temperature is high and the relative longwave radiative heating of the lower atmosphere by the surface reaches its maximum value.

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Lei Shi
and
Eric A. Smith

Abstract

During the summer east Asian monsoon transition period in 1979, a meteorological field experiment entitled the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau Meteorological Experiment (QXPMEX-79) was conducted over the entire Tibetan Plateau. Data collected on and around the plateau during this period, in conjunction with a medium spectral-resolution infrared radiative transfer model, are used to gain an understanding of how elevation and surface biophysical factors, which are highly variable over the large-scale plateau domain, regulate the spatial distribution of clear-sky infrared cooling during the transition phase of the summer monsoon.

The spatial distribution of longwave cooling over the plateau is significantly influenced by variations in biophysical composition, topography, and elevation, the surface thermal diurnal cycle, and various climatological factors. An important factor is soil moisture. Bulk clear-sky longwave cooling rates are larger in the southeast sector of the plateau than in the north. This is because rainfall is greatest in the southeast, whereas the north is highly desertified and relative longwave radiative heating by the surface is greatest. Another important phenomenon is that the locale of a large-scale east-west-aligned spatial gradient in radiative cooling propagates northward with time. During the premonsoon period (May–June), the location of the strong spatial gradient is found in the southeastern margin of the plateau. Due to changes in surface and atmospheric conditions after the summer monsoon commences, the high gradient sector is shifted to the central Qinghai region. Furthermore, an overall decrease in longwave cooling takes place in the lower atmosphere immediately prior to the arrival of the active monsoon.

The magnitude of longwave cooling is significantly affected by skin-temperature boundary conditions at plateau altitudes. If skin-temperature discontinuities across the surface-atmosphere interface are neglected, bulk cooling rates will be in error up to 1°C day−1. The high surface skin temperatures, particularly in the afternoon, lead to significant relative longwave radiative heating in the lower atmosphere for which the impact in terms of vertical depth is shown to increase rather dramatically as a function of the elevation of the terrain. The significance of these results in the context of previous heat budget studies of the plateau suggest that the radiative heating term (QR ) used by previous investigators contains far too much longwave cooling, and thus in a classic formulation of the Yanai Q 1 balance equation, would lead to underestimation of sensible heating into the atmospheric column.

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Yunpeng Shan
,
Eric M. Wilcox
,
Lan Gao
,
Lin Lin
,
David L. Mitchell
,
Yan Yin
,
Tianliang Zhao
,
Lei Zhang
,
Hongrong Shi
, and
Meng Gao

Abstract

Significant uncertainty lies in representing the rain droplet size distribution (DSD) in bulk cloud microphysics schemes and in the derivation of parameters of the function fit to the spectrum from the varying moments of a DSD. Here we evaluate the suitability of gamma distribution functions (GDFs) for fitting rain DSDs against observed disdrometer data. Results illustrate that double-parameter GDFs with prescribed or diagnosed positive spectral shape parameters μ fit rain DSDs better than the Marshall–Palmer distribution function (with μ = 0). The relative errors of fitting the spectrum moments (especially high-order moments) decrease by an order of magnitude [from O(102) to O(101)]. Moreover, introduction of a triple-parameter GDF with mathematically solved μ decreases the relative errors to O(100). Based on further investigation of potential combinations of the three prognostic moments for triple-moment cloud microphysical schemes, it is found that the GDF with parameters determined from predictions of the zeroth, third, and fourth moments (the 034 GDF) exhibits the best fit to rain DSDs compared to other moment combinations. Therefore, we suggest that the 034 prognostic moment group should replace the widely accepted 036 group to represent rain DSDs in triple-moment cloud microphysics schemes. An evaluation of the capability of GDFs to represent rain DSDs demonstrates that 034 GDF exhibits accurate fits to all observed DSDs except for rarely occurring extremely wide spectra from heavy precipitation and extremely narrow spectra from drizzle. The knowledge gained from this assessment can also be used to improve cloud microphysics retrieval schemes and data assimilation.

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