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Norman G. Loeb, Konstantin Loukachine, Natividad Manalo-Smith, Bruce A. Wielicki, and David F. Young

Abstract

Top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiative fluxes from the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) are estimated from empirical angular distribution models (ADMs) that convert instantaneous radiance measurements to TOA fluxes. This paper evaluates the accuracy of CERES TOA fluxes obtained from a new set of ADMs developed for the CERES instrument onboard the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM). The uncertainty in regional monthly mean reflected shortwave (SW) and emitted longwave (LW) TOA fluxes is less than 0.5 W m−2, based on comparisons with TOA fluxes evaluated by direct integration of the measured radiances. When stratified by viewing geometry, TOA fluxes from different angles are consistent to within 2% in the SW and 0.7% (or 2 W m−2) in the LW. In contrast, TOA fluxes based on ADMs from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) applied to the same CERES radiance measurements show a 10% relative increase with viewing zenith angle in the SW and a 3.5% (9 W m−2) decrease with viewing zenith angle in the LW. Based on multiangle CERES radiance measurements, 1° regional instantaneous TOA flux errors from the new CERES ADMs are estimated to be <10 W m−2 in the SW and <3.5 W m−2 in the LW. The errors show little or no dependence on cloud phase, cloud optical depth, and cloud infrared emissivity. An analysis of cloud radiative forcing (CRF) sensitivity to differences between ERBE and CERES TRMM ADMs, scene identification, and directional models of albedo as a function of solar zenith angle shows that ADM and clear-sky scene identification differences can lead to an 8 W m−2 root-mean-square (rms) difference in 1° daily mean SW CRF and a 4 W m−2 rms difference in LW CRF. In contrast, monthly mean SW and LW CRF differences reach 3 W m−2. CRF is found to be relatively insensitive to differences between the ERBE and CERES TRMM directional models.

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Norman G. Loeb, Seiji Kato, Konstantin Loukachine, Natividad Manalo-Smith, and David R. Doelling

Abstract

Errors in top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiative fluxes from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instrument due to uncertainties in radiance-to-flux conversion from CERES Terra angular distribution models (ADMs) are evaluated through a series of consistency tests. These tests show that the overall bias in regional monthly mean shortwave (SW) TOA flux is less than 0.2 W m−2 and the regional RMS error ranges from 0.70 to 1.4 W m−2. In contrast, SW TOA fluxes inferred using theoretical ADMs that assume clouds are plane parallel are overestimated by 3–4 W m−2 and exhibit a strong latitudinal dependence. In the longwave (LW), the bias error ranges from 0.2 to 0.4 W m−2 and regional RMS errors remain smaller than 0.7 W m−2. Global mean albedos derived from ADMs developed during the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) and applied to CERES measurements show a systematic increase with viewing zenith angle of 4%–8%, while albedos from the CERES Terra ADMs show a smaller increase of 1%–2%. The LW fluxes from the ERBE ADMs show a systematic decrease with viewing zenith angle of 2%–2.4%, whereas fluxes from the CERES Terra ADMs remain within 0.7%–0.8% at all angles. Based on several months of multiangle CERES along-track data, the SW TOA flux consistency between nadir- and oblique-viewing zenith angles is generally 5% (<17 W m−2) over land and ocean and 9% (26 W m−2) in polar regions, and LW TOA flux consistency is approximate 3% (7 W m−2) over all surfaces. Based on these results and a theoretically derived conversion between TOA flux consistency and TOA flux error, the best estimate of the error in CERES TOA flux due to the radiance-to-flux conversion is 3% (10 W m−2) in the SW and 1.8% (3–5 W m−2) in the LW. Monthly mean TOA fluxes based on ERBE ADMs are larger than monthly mean TOA fluxes based on CERES Terra ADMs by 1.8 and 1.3 W m−2 in the SW and LW, respectively.

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Jason Cole, Howard W. Barker, Norman G. Loeb, and Knut von Salzen

Abstract

Coincident top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiative fluxes and cloud optical properties for portions of clouds whose tops are exposed to space within several pressure ranges are used to evaluate how a GCM realizes its all-sky radiative fluxes and vertical structure. In particular, observations of cloud properties and radiative fluxes from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) Science Team are used to assess the Canadian Centre for Climate Modeling and Analysis atmospheric global climate model (CanAM4). Through comparison of CanAM4 with CERES observations it was found that, while the July-mean all-sky TOA shortwave and longwave fluxes simulated by CanAM4 agree well with those observed, this agreement rests on compensating biases in simulated cloud properties and radiative fluxes for low, middle, and high clouds. Namely, low and middle cloud albedos simulated by CanAM4 are larger than those observed by CERES attributable to CanAM4 simulating cloud optical depths via large liquid water paths that are too large but are partly compensated by too small cloud fractions. It was also found that CanAM4 produces 2D histograms of cloud fraction and cloud albedo for low, middle, and high clouds that are significantly different than generated using the CERES observations.

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Seiji Kato, Kuan-Man Xu, Takmeng Wong, Norman G. Loeb, Fred G. Rose, Kevin E. Trenberth, and Tyler J. Thorsen

Abstract

Observationally based atmospheric energy balance is analyzed using Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES)-derived TOA and surface irradiance, Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP)-derived precipitation, dry static and kinetic energy tendency and divergence estimated from ERA-Interim, and surface sensible heat flux from SeaFlux. The residual tends to be negative over the tropics and positive over midlatitudes. A negative residual implies that the precipitation rate is too small, divergence is too large, or radiative cooling is too large. The residual of atmospheric energy is spatially and temporally correlated with cloud objects to identify cloud types associated with the residual. Spatially, shallow cumulus, cirrostratus, and deep convective cloud-object occurrence are positively correlated with the absolute value of the residual. The temporal correlation coefficient between the number of deep convective cloud objects and individual energy components, net atmospheric irradiance, precipitation rate, and the sum of dry static and kinetic energy divergence and their tendency over the western Pacific are 0.84, 0.95, and 0.93, respectively. However, when all energy components are added, the atmospheric energy residual over the tropical Pacific is temporally correlated well with the number of shallow cumulus cloud objects over tropical Pacific. Because shallow cumulus alters not enough atmospheric energy compared to the residual, this suggests the following: 1) if retrieval errors associated with deep convective clouds are causing the column-integrated atmospheric energy residual, the errors vary among individual deep convective clouds, and 2) it is possible that the residual is associated with processes in which shallow cumulus clouds affect deep convective clouds and hence atmospheric energy budget over the tropical western Pacific.

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David A. Rutan, Seiji Kato, David R. Doelling, Fred G. Rose, Le Trang Nguyen, Thomas E. Caldwell, and Norman G. Loeb

Abstract

The Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System Synoptic (SYN1deg), edition 3, product provides climate-quality global 3-hourly 1° × 1°gridded top of atmosphere, in-atmosphere, and surface radiant fluxes. The in-atmosphere surface fluxes are computed hourly using a radiative transfer code based upon inputs from Terra and Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), 3-hourly geostationary (GEO) data, and meteorological assimilation data from the Goddard Earth Observing System. The GEO visible and infrared imager calibration is tied to MODIS to ensure uniform MODIS-like cloud properties across all satellite cloud datasets. Computed surface radiant fluxes are compared to surface observations at 85 globally distributed land (37) and ocean buoy (48) sites as well as several other publicly available global surface radiant flux data products. Computed monthly mean downward fluxes from SYN1deg have a bias (standard deviation) of 3.0 W m−2 (5.7%) for shortwave and −4.0 W m−2 (2.9%) for longwave compared to surface observations. The standard deviation between surface downward shortwave flux calculations and observations at the 3-hourly time scale is reduced when the diurnal cycle of cloud changes is explicitly accounted for. The improvement is smaller for surface downward longwave flux owing to an additional sensitivity to boundary layer temperature/humidity, which has a weaker diurnal cycle compared to clouds.

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Norman G. Loeb, Hailan Wang, Fred G. Rose, Seiji Kato, William L. Smith Jr, and Sunny Sun-Mack

Abstract

A diagnostic tool for determining surface and atmospheric contributions to interannual variations in top-of-atmosphere (TOA) reflected shortwave (SW) and net downward SW surface radiative fluxes is introduced. The method requires only upward and downward radiative fluxes at the TOA and surface as input and therefore can readily be applied to both satellite-derived and model-generated radiative fluxes. Observations from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) Energy Balanced and Filled (EBAF) Edition 4.0 product show that 81% of the monthly variability in global mean reflected SW TOA flux anomalies is associated with atmospheric variations (mainly clouds), 6% is from surface variations, and 13% is from atmosphere–surface covariability. Over the Arctic Ocean, most of the variability in both reflected SW TOA flux and net downward SW surface flux anomalies is explained by variations in sea ice and cloud fraction alone (r 2 = 0.94). Compared to CERES, variability in two reanalyses—the ECMWF interim reanalysis (ERA-Interim) and NASA’s Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, version 2 (MERRA-2)—show large differences in the regional distribution of variance for both the atmospheric and surface contributions to anomalies in net downward SW surface flux. For MERRA-2 the atmospheric contribution is 17% too large compared to CERES while ERA-Interim underestimates the variance by 15%. The difference is mainly due to how cloud variations are represented in the reanalyses. The overall surface contribution in both ERA-Interim and MERRA-2 is smaller than CERES EBAF by 15% for ERA-Interim and 58% for MERRA-2, highlighting limitations of the reanalyses in representing surface albedo variations and their influence on SW radiative fluxes.

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Xianglei Huang, Jason N. S. Cole, Fei He, Gerald L. Potter, Lazaros Oreopoulos, Dongmin Lee, Max Suarez, and Norman G. Loeb

Abstract

The cloud radiative effect (CRE) of each longwave (LW) absorption band of a GCM’s radiation code is uniquely valuable for GCM evaluation because 1) comparing band-by-band CRE avoids the compensating biases in the broadband CRE comparison and 2) the fractional contribution of each band to the LW broadband CRE (f CRE) is sensitive to cloud-top height but largely insensitive to cloud fraction, thereby presenting a diagnostic metric to separate the two macroscopic properties of clouds. Recent studies led by the first author have established methods to derive such band-by-band quantities from collocated Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) and Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) observations. A study is presented here that compares the observed band-by-band CRE over the tropical oceans with those simulated by three different atmospheric GCMs—the GFDL Atmospheric Model version 2 (GFDL AM2), NASA Goddard Earth Observing System version 5 (GEOS-5), and the fourth-generation AGCM of the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis (CCCma CanAM4)—forced by observed SST. The models agree with observation on the annual-mean LW broadband CRE over the tropical oceans within ±1 W m−2. However, the differences among these three GCMs in some bands can be as large as or even larger than ±1 W m−2. Observed seasonal cycles of f CRE in major bands are shown to be consistent with the seasonal cycle of cloud-top pressure for both the amplitude and the phase. However, while the three simulated seasonal cycles of f CRE agree with observations on the phase, the amplitudes are underestimated. Simulated interannual anomalies from GFDL AM2 and CCCma CanAM4 are in phase with observed anomalies. The spatial distribution of f CRE highlights the discrepancies between models and observation over the low-cloud regions and the compensating biases from different bands.

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Xianglei Huang, Xiuhong Chen, Gerald L. Potter, Lazaros Oreopoulos, Jason N. S. Cole, Dongmin Lee, and Norman G. Loeb

Abstract

Longwave (LW) spectral flux and cloud radiative effect (CRE) are important for understanding the earth’s radiation budget and cloud–radiation interaction. Here, the authors extend their previous algorithms to collocated Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) and Cloud and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) observations over the entire globe and show that the algorithms yield consistently good performances for measurements over both land and ocean. As a result, the authors are able to derive spectral flux and CRE at 10-cm−1 intervals over the entire LW spectrum from all currently available collocated AIRS and CERES observations. Using this multiyear dataset, they delineate the climatology of spectral CRE, including the far IR, over the entire globe as well as in different climate zones. Furthermore, the authors define two quantities, IR-effective cloud-top height (CTHeff) and cloud amount (CAeff), based on the monthly-mean spectral (or band by band) CRE. Comparisons with cloud fields retrieved by the CERES–Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) algorithm indicate that, under many circumstances, the CTHeff and CAeff can be related to the physical retrievals of CTH and CA and thus can enhance understandings of model deficiencies in LW radiation budgets and cloud fields. Using simulations from the GFDL global atmosphere model, version 2 (AM2); NASA’s Goddard Earth Observing System, version 5 (GEOS-5); and Environment Canada’s Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis (CCCma) Fourth Generation Canadian Atmospheric General Circulation Model (CanAM4) as case studies, the authors further demonstrate the merits of the CTHeff and CAeff concepts in providing insights on global climate model evaluations that cannot be obtained solely from broadband LW flux and CRE comparisons.

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Norman G. Loeb, Natividad Manalo-Smith, Seiji Kato, Walter F. Miller, Shashi K. Gupta, Patrick Minnis, and Bruce A. Wielicki

Abstract

Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) investigates the critical role that clouds and aerosols play in modulating the radiative energy flow within the Earth–atmosphere system. CERES builds upon the foundation laid by previous missions, such as the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment, to provide highly accurate top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiative fluxes together with coincident cloud and aerosol properties inferred from high-resolution imager measurements. This paper describes the method used to construct empirical angular distribution models (ADMs) for estimating shortwave, longwave, and window TOA radiative fluxes from CERES radiance measurements on board the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite. To construct the ADMs, multiangle CERES measurements are combined with coincident high-resolution Visible Infrared Scanner measurements and meteorological parameters from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts data assimilation product. The ADMs are stratified by scene types defined by parameters that have a strong influence on the angular dependence of Earth's radiation field at the TOA. Examples of how the new CERES ADMs depend upon the imager-based parameters are provided together with comparisons with existing models.

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Frank O. Bryan, Robert Tomas, John M. Dennis, Dudley B. Chelton, Norman G. Loeb, and Julie L. McClean

Abstract

The emerging picture of frontal scale air–sea interaction derived from high-resolution satellite observations of surface winds and sea surface temperature (SST) provides a unique opportunity to test the fidelity of high-resolution coupled climate simulations. Initial analysis of the output of a suite of Community Climate System Model (CCSM) experiments indicates that characteristics of frontal scale ocean–atmosphere interaction, such as the positive correlation between SST and surface wind stress, are realistically captured only when the ocean component is eddy resolving. The strength of the coupling between SST and surface stress is weaker than observed, however, as has been found previously for numerical weather prediction models and other coupled climate models. The results are similar when the atmospheric component model grid resolution is doubled from 0.5° to 0.25°, an indication that shortcomings in the representation of subgrid scale atmospheric planetary boundary layer processes, rather than resolved scale processes, are responsible for the weakness of the coupling. In the coupled model solutions the response to mesoscale SST features is strongest in the atmospheric boundary layer, but there is a deeper reaching response of the atmospheric circulation apparent in free tropospheric clouds. This simulated response is shown to be consistent with satellite estimates of the relationship between mesoscale SST and all-sky albedo.

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