Spectral Absorption of Solar Radiation in Cloudy Atmospheres: A 20 cm−1 Model

Roger Davies Department of Geosciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907

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William L. Ridgway Department of Geosciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907

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Kyung-Eak Kim Department of Geosciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907

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Abstract

The spectral of solar radiation in typical water clouds is determined using a radiative transfer model based on LOWTRAN transmission functions at a 20 cm−1 resolution and Monte Carlo simulations of photon pathlength distributions. Relative absorption by the vapor and droplets within each cloud is obtained, and both plane-parallel and horizontally finite clouds are considered.

Results indicate slightly lower absorption than found previously, with boundary layer clouds typically absorbing 9% of the extraterrestrial insolation for overhead sun. Cloud absorption depends strongly on the presence of water vapor above the cloud top and solar zenith angle, moderately on cloud aspect ratio, and (provided the cloud is neither tenuous nor broken) weakly on cloud type and thickness. The droplets, not the vapor, are shown to be the dominant absorbers within the cloud, except in the absence of water vapor above the cloud top, in which case the vapor and droplets make similar contributions to the low cloud absorption. For many of the cases modeled, the sum of the cloud and atmospheric absorption remained invariant, allowing the net solar radiation budget at the surface to be deduced from broadband satellite measurements of albedo. An explanation for this behavior is found in the analysis of the spectral absorption by the different components.

Abstract

The spectral of solar radiation in typical water clouds is determined using a radiative transfer model based on LOWTRAN transmission functions at a 20 cm−1 resolution and Monte Carlo simulations of photon pathlength distributions. Relative absorption by the vapor and droplets within each cloud is obtained, and both plane-parallel and horizontally finite clouds are considered.

Results indicate slightly lower absorption than found previously, with boundary layer clouds typically absorbing 9% of the extraterrestrial insolation for overhead sun. Cloud absorption depends strongly on the presence of water vapor above the cloud top and solar zenith angle, moderately on cloud aspect ratio, and (provided the cloud is neither tenuous nor broken) weakly on cloud type and thickness. The droplets, not the vapor, are shown to be the dominant absorbers within the cloud, except in the absence of water vapor above the cloud top, in which case the vapor and droplets make similar contributions to the low cloud absorption. For many of the cases modeled, the sum of the cloud and atmospheric absorption remained invariant, allowing the net solar radiation budget at the surface to be deduced from broadband satellite measurements of albedo. An explanation for this behavior is found in the analysis of the spectral absorption by the different components.

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