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Ellsworth G. Dutton

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Ellsworth G. Dutton

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The radiation balance consisting of upward and downward components of solar and thermal infrared broadband irradiances is continuously measured from the top of a 300-m tower situated on the Colorado high plains. The data are representative of a weighted areal average over a variety of surface and vegetation types within about a 1.5-km radius of the tower. Data from a three-year period, 1986–88, appears to be sufficient to define smooth annual cycles in monthly averages and 1-h resolution diurnal cycles in seasonal averages. It is found that even though infrared cycles are out of phase with cycles of corresponding solar components, the overall net radiation balance is in phase with surface solar forcing. The latter follows closely the extraterrestrial forcing but with some phase modifications by clouds and surface reflectance variations. The value of the correlation coefficient squared between the extraterrestrial radiation and the measured surface radiation balance quickly increases from 0.89–0.99 as averaging time increases from 1–90 days, respectively.

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Ellsworth G. Dutton

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Differences between observed and LOWTRAN7-computed downward longwave irradiances were examined at each of four globally diverse locations for an entire year at each site. The final results are restricted to times determined to be completely or nearly cloud-free. The irradiances from 367 such times range from 60 to 435 W m−2, and results indicate that the modeled irradiances and those measured directly using a pyrgeometer agree to within 5 W m−2 at individual sites and to within lm than 0.2 W m−2 when averaged over all four sites, neglecting any site-specific biases. The standard deviations and standard errors associated with these results are roughly 10 and 1 W m−2, respectively. An unbiased estimate of the agreement between the model and observations results in a mean difference of 0.62 W m−2 with standard deviation of 5 W m−2 but an even larger 95% confidence interval because of the small sample size. The comparison variance can be logically ascribed to a number of different sources, including atmospheric variability and inhomogeneity, as well as to short-term instrument and LOWTRAN7 input variations. LOWTRAN7 and the observations agree better, in the mean, than the commonly accepted uncertainties for either would suggest. Maximum cloud radiative forcing at the surface for each site is quantified as a by-product of the comparison process.

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Ellsworth G. Dutton and Barry A. Bodhaine

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The clear-sky transmission of the atmosphere contributes to determining the amount of solar irradiance that reaches various levels in the atmosphere, which in turn is fundamental to defining the climate of the earth. As of the end of 1999, sustained clear-sky solar transmission over the mid-Pacific, as viewed from Mauna Loa, Hawaii, reached its highest level of clarity since before the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 and appears to be continuing to increase toward baseline levels established during 1958–62 and not sustained since. This record is used to answer the question as to impact of transmission variations, which can be attributed to either upward scattering or absorption above the station, on the net solar irradiance at 3.4 km, the altitude of the isolated mountain-top observing site. Net solar irradiance at a given level describes the total solar irradiance absorbed below that level. Monthly mean net solar anomalies caused by transmission variations, relative to the 1958–62 baseline, range from −14 to 2 W m−2 and averaged −1.45 W m−2 (−0.7%) between 1963 and 1999. Because of inherent attributes of this transmission record, the observed fluctuations in the record are of unusually high precision over the entire period of record and are also representative of an extended surrounding region. Irradiance anomalies have a long-term precision of better than 0.1 W m−2 (∼0.05%) per decade. Any possible linear trend for the entire 42 yr is limited by the data to between about 0.0 and −0.1 W m−2 decade−1, or any net shift over the 42 yr must be in the range of about 0.0 to −0.35 W m−2 (0.0% to −0.15%). The transmission fluctuations are potentially caused by various atmospheric constituents, primarily aerosols, ozone, and water vapor, but the role of a specific constituent cannot be uniquely isolated on the basis of the transmission record alone. Aerosols have the greatest potential influence on the record and in general have the ability to cause both scattering and absorption such that the net radiative heating effect in the entire atmospheric column cannot be determined from the transmission data alone. However, because the largest anomalies in the record are known to be due to volcanic eruptions that produce predominantly conservative scattering aerosols, those large anomalies resulted in net radiative cooling tendencies in the entire associated atmospheric column.

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Seth Nemesure, Robert D. Cess, Ellsworth G. Dutton, John J. Deluisi, Zhanqing Li, and Henry G. Leighton

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Recent data from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) have raised the question as to whether or not the addition of clouds to the atmospheric column can decrease the top-of-the-atmosphere (TOA) albedo over bright snow-covered surfaces. To address this issue, ERBE shortwave pixel measurements have been collocated with surface insolation measurements made at two snow-covered locations: the South Pole and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Both collocated datasets show a negative correlation (with solar zenith angle variability removed) between TOA albedo and surface insulation. Because increased cloudiness acts to reduce surface insulation, these negative correlations demonstrate that clouds increase the TOA albedo at both snow-covered locations.

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Ellsworth G. Dutton, Robert S. Stone, Donald W. Nelson, and Bernard G. Mendonca

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Incoming global solar irradiance measured at the surface at the South Pole unexpectedly decreased steadily by 15% from 1976 through 1987 during the late austral summer season, whereas no trend is apparent for September through December. February's irradiance trend, − 1.24% yr−1 on the average, is statistically significant at greater than the 99.9% confidence level. The irradiance observations were made continuously with the same calibrated sensor and are confirmed by a second simultaneous solar irradiance measurement series. Associated changes in seasonal sky cover (clouds) and surface air temperature were also observed. Seasonally increasing cloud cover is directly associated with the decreasing irradiance trends, whereas temperatures show a warming trend significant only in March, followed by a cooling trend significant only in May. Cloudiness and temperature records for 32 years suggest that the observed cloudiness trend began in the late 1970s, while the temperature trends become apparent only in the early 1980s. The observed sensitivity of total global solar irradiance to the change in sky cover is roughly six percent per one-tenth and is shown to vary spectrally. Although the annual averages of solar irradiance at the South Pole display an overall decrease between 1976 and 1989, the most recent years in this period show some recovery from earlier declines. Likewise, the downward trends in January and February irradiance diminished in 1988 and 1989.

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Barry A. Bodhaine, Ellsworth G. Dutton, Richard L. McKenzie, and Paul V. Johnston

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A UV spectroradiometer was installed at Mauna Loa Observatory (MLO), Hawaii, in July 1995. This instrument has been employed to characterize several broadband UV instruments of a type commonly used to estimate erythemal irradiance at many sites around the globe. One year of clear-sky data from MLO has been analyzed for solar zenith angles (SZAs) of 5°–85°, in steps of 5°, and for total ozone values in the range 220–310 DU measured with a Dobson spectrophotometer. Because the spectral responses of various broadband instruments can be quite different, and particularly because the erythemal response defined for human skin is significantly different than that of many broadband instruments, the calibration of a broadband instrument reporting in erythemal units is strongly dependent on total ozone and SZA. When a broadband instrument is placed in the field it is necessary to know the calibration as a function of ozone and SZA to determine accurate erythemal irradiance. However, the manufacturers of broadband instruments do not generally provide information on the ozone dependence of the calibration. A procedure is described here for determining the calibration of a broadband UV instrument by comparison with a calibrated spectroradiometer. This procedure does not require precise knowledge of the spectral response of the broadband instrument. This analysis shows that if, for example, total ozone concentration decreased from 300 to 200 DU, the calibration constant of a broadband instrument should be increased by almost 20%. Therefore, the broadband instrument would significantly underestimate the increase of erythema.

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Robert D. Cess, Ellsworth G. Dutton, John J. Deluisi, and Feng Jiang

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Two separate datasets both of which provide measurements of net downward shortwave radiation have been combined, so as to provide a means of critically examining methods for transferring satellite measurements to the surface. This is further facilitated through interfacing the two datasets with an atmospheric shortwave-radiation model. One dataset comprises near-surface measurements made at the Boulder Atmospheric Observatory Tower while the other consists of collocated satellite pixel measurements from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment.

This study amplifies previous suggestions that surface-shortwave absorption is a more meaningful quantity, for climate studies, than is surface insolation. The former should not, however, be evaluated from the latter through use of a surface albedo, since surface albedo is not solely a surface property nor can it easily be evaluated from satellite measurements. It is further demonstrated that a direct evaluation of surface shortwave absorption can be more accurately obtained from satellite measurements than can surface insolation. Specifically, a linear slope-offset relationship exists between surface and surface-atmosphere shortwave absorption, and an algorithm is suggested for transferring satellite shortwave measurements to surface-shortwave absorption. The present study is directed solely at clear-sky conditions because the clear-sky top-to-surface transfer serves as a necessary prerequisite towards treating both clear and overcast conditions.

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Barry A. Bodhaine, Norman B. Wood, Ellsworth G. Dutton, and James R. Slusser

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Many different techniques are used for the calculation of Rayleigh optical depth in the atmosphere. In some cases differences among these techniques can be important, especially in the UV region of the spectrum and under clean atmospheric conditions. The authors recommend that the calculation of Rayleigh optical depth be approached by going back to the first principles of Rayleigh scattering theory rather than the variety of curve-fitting techniques currently in use. A survey of the literature was conducted in order to determine the latest values of the physical constants necessary and to review the methods available for the calculation of Rayleigh optical depth. The recommended approach requires the accurate calculation of the refractive index of air based on the latest published measurements. Calculations estimating Rayleigh optical depth should be done as accurately as possible because the inaccuracies that arise can equal or even exceed other quantities being estimated, such as aerosol optical depth, particularly in the UV region of the spectrum. All of the calculations are simple enough to be done easily in a spreadsheet.

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Robert D. Cess, Seth Nemesure, Ellsworth G. Dutton, John J. Deluisi, Gerald L. Potter, and Jean-Jacques Morcrette

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Two datasets have been combined to demonstrate how the availability of more comprehensive datasets could serve to elucidate the shortwave radiative impact of clouds on both the atmospheric column and the surface. These datasets consist of two measurements of net downward shortwave radiation: one of near-surface measurements made at the Boulder Atmospheric Observatory tower, and the other of collocated top-of-the-atmosphere measurements from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment. Output from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts General Circulation Model also has been used as an aid in interpreting the data, while the data have in turn been employed to validate the model's shortwave radiation code as it pertains to cloud radiation properties. Combined, the datasets and model demonstrate a strategy for determining under what conditions the shortwave radiative impact of clouds leads to a heating or cooling of the atmospheric column. The datasets also show, in terms of a linear slope-offset algorithm for retrieving the net downward shortwave radiation at the surface from satellite measurements, that the clouds present during this study produced a modest negative bias in the retrieved surface flux relative to that inferred from a clear-sky algorithm.

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