Infrared Parameterization and Simple Climate Models

David A. Short Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771

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Gerald R. North Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771

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T. Dale Bess NASA, Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA 23665

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G. Louis Smith NASA, Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA 23665

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Abstract

Empirical studies of total outgoing infrared radiation IR and surface temperature T have shown them to be well correlated for large time and space scales. An analysis of one year of Nimbus-6 data shows that the simple form IR = A + BT (with A = 204 W m−2, B = 1.93 W m−2K−1) explains 90% of the area-weighted variance in the annual mean and annual cycle of the zonally averaged IR field. The geographical distribution of the annual cycle in IR shows a large amplitude over the continental interiors, as is found in the observed temperature field, and the ratio of the large amplitudes (Blocal) is approximately 2 W m−2K−1. This helps to explain our recent success in modeling the geographical distribution of the annual cycle in T with a two-dimensional, time-dependent energy balance climate model (EBCM) which makes use of the A + BT rule. The parameterization works well in regions where the thermal inertia is small and the annual cycles of T and IR are large and in phase. Those regions where Blocal differs markedly from 2 W m−2K−1 are where the IR is strongly affected by the cloudiness of seasonal precipitation regimes. This effect is especially evident over the tropical oceans where the parameterization fails; but that is where the thermal inertia is large, the seasonal cycle in T is small, and even large errors in the radiative cooling approximation will have little impact on seasonal cycle simulations by simple climate models.

Abstract

Empirical studies of total outgoing infrared radiation IR and surface temperature T have shown them to be well correlated for large time and space scales. An analysis of one year of Nimbus-6 data shows that the simple form IR = A + BT (with A = 204 W m−2, B = 1.93 W m−2K−1) explains 90% of the area-weighted variance in the annual mean and annual cycle of the zonally averaged IR field. The geographical distribution of the annual cycle in IR shows a large amplitude over the continental interiors, as is found in the observed temperature field, and the ratio of the large amplitudes (Blocal) is approximately 2 W m−2K−1. This helps to explain our recent success in modeling the geographical distribution of the annual cycle in T with a two-dimensional, time-dependent energy balance climate model (EBCM) which makes use of the A + BT rule. The parameterization works well in regions where the thermal inertia is small and the annual cycles of T and IR are large and in phase. Those regions where Blocal differs markedly from 2 W m−2K−1 are where the IR is strongly affected by the cloudiness of seasonal precipitation regimes. This effect is especially evident over the tropical oceans where the parameterization fails; but that is where the thermal inertia is large, the seasonal cycle in T is small, and even large errors in the radiative cooling approximation will have little impact on seasonal cycle simulations by simple climate models.

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