Absorption of Solar Radiation by Stratocumulus Clouds: Aircraft Measurements and Theoretical Calculations

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  • 1 Center for Atmospheric and Oceanic Studies, Faculty of Science, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
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Abstract

Aircraft observations of shortwave radiative properties of stratocumulus clouds were carried out over the western North Pacific Ocean during January 1991. Two aircraft were equipped with a pair of pyranometers and near-infrared pyranometers. Downward and upward shortwave fluxes above and below the cloud were synchronously measured by two aircraft. The cloud radiative properties, especially the absorptance obtained from measurements, were compared with those calculated. Aircraft measurements and Monte Carlo calculations showed that spatial inhomogeneities of clouds cause horizontal radiative convergence and divergence, and that vertical radiative convergence-that is, absorptance with a usual definition-apparently becomes extremely large or negative. The apparent absorptance could be corrected by a method that evaluates the true absorption from the difference between the apparent visible and near-infrared absorptions. The corrected absorptance agreed well with the theoretical absorptance calculated with plane-parallel cloud models. It is also inferred that the anomalous absorption pointed out by aircraft observations in previous studies does not exist.

Abstract

Aircraft observations of shortwave radiative properties of stratocumulus clouds were carried out over the western North Pacific Ocean during January 1991. Two aircraft were equipped with a pair of pyranometers and near-infrared pyranometers. Downward and upward shortwave fluxes above and below the cloud were synchronously measured by two aircraft. The cloud radiative properties, especially the absorptance obtained from measurements, were compared with those calculated. Aircraft measurements and Monte Carlo calculations showed that spatial inhomogeneities of clouds cause horizontal radiative convergence and divergence, and that vertical radiative convergence-that is, absorptance with a usual definition-apparently becomes extremely large or negative. The apparent absorptance could be corrected by a method that evaluates the true absorption from the difference between the apparent visible and near-infrared absorptions. The corrected absorptance agreed well with the theoretical absorptance calculated with plane-parallel cloud models. It is also inferred that the anomalous absorption pointed out by aircraft observations in previous studies does not exist.

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