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Guanglin Tang, Ping Yang, George W. Kattawar, Xianglei Huang, Eli J. Mlawer, Bryan A. Baum, and Michael D. King


Cloud longwave scattering is generally neglected in general circulation models (GCMs), but it plays a significant and highly uncertain role in the atmospheric energy budget as demonstrated in recent studies. To reduce the errors caused by neglecting cloud longwave scattering, two new radiance adjustment methods are developed that retain the computational efficiency of broadband radiative transfer simulations. In particular, two existing scaling methods and the two new adjustment methods are implemented in the Rapid Radiative Transfer Model (RRTM). The results are then compared with those based on the Discrete Ordinate Radiative Transfer model (DISORT) that explicitly accounts for multiple scattering by clouds. The two scaling methods are shown to improve the accuracy of radiative transfer simulations for optically thin clouds but not effectively for optically thick clouds. However, the adjustment methods reduce computational errors over a wide range, from optically thin to thick clouds. With the adjustment methods, the errors resulting from neglecting cloud longwave scattering are reduced to less than 2 W m−2 for the upward irradiance at the top of the atmosphere and less than 0.5 W m−2 for the surface downward irradiance. The adjustment schemes prove to be more accurate and efficient than a four-stream approximation that explicitly accounts for multiple scattering. The neglect of cloud longwave scattering results in an underestimate of the surface downward irradiance (cooling effect), but the errors are almost eliminated by the adjustment methods (warming effect).

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Norman G. Loeb, Ping Yang, Fred G. Rose, Gang Hong, Sunny Sun-Mack, Patrick Minnis, Seiji Kato, Seung-Hee Ham, William L. Smith Jr., Souichiro Hioki, and Guanglin Tang


Ice cloud particles exhibit a range of shapes and sizes affecting a cloud’s single-scattering properties. Because they cannot be inferred from passive visible/infrared imager measurements, assumptions about the bulk single-scattering properties of ice clouds are fundamental to satellite cloud retrievals and broadband radiative flux calculations. To examine the sensitivity to ice particle model assumptions, three sets of models are used in satellite imager retrievals of ice cloud fraction, thermodynamic phase, optical depth, effective height, and particle size, and in top-of-atmosphere (TOA) and surface broadband radiative flux calculations. The three ice particle models include smooth hexagonal ice columns (SMOOTH), roughened hexagonal ice columns, and a two-habit model (THM) comprising an ensemble of hexagonal columns and 20-element aggregates. While the choice of ice particle model has a negligible impact on daytime cloud fraction and thermodynamic phase, the global mean ice cloud optical depth retrieved from THM is smaller than from SMOOTH by 2.3 (28%), and the regional root-mean-square difference (RMSD) is 2.8 (32%). Effective radii derived from THM are 3.9 μm (16%) smaller than SMOOTH values and the RMSD is 5.2 μm (21%). In contrast, the regional RMSD in TOA and surface flux between THM and SMOOTH is only 1% in the shortwave and 0.3% in the longwave when a consistent ice particle model is assumed in the cloud property retrievals and forward radiative transfer model calculations. Consequently, radiative fluxes derived using a consistent ice particle model assumption throughout provide a more robust reference for climate model evaluation compared to ice cloud property retrievals.

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