Finite-Cloud Effects in Longwave Radiative Transfer

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
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Abstract

As numerical weather and climate prediction models demand more accurate treatment of clouds, the role of finite-cloud effects in longwave radiative transfer clearly warrants further study. In this research, finite-cloud effects are defined as the influence of cloud shape, size, and spatial arrangement on longwave radiative transfer. To show the magnitude of these effects, radiometer data collected in 1992 during the Atlantic Stratocumulus Transition Experiment (ASTEX) were analyzed. The ASTEX data showed that radiative transfer calculations that ignored the vertical dimensions of the clouds underestimated the longwave cloud radiative surface forcing by 30%, on average. To study further these finite-cloud effects, a three-dimensional 11-µm radiative transfer model was developed. Results from this model, which neglected scattering, agreed with the measurements taken during ASTEX on 14 June 1992. This model was also used to reiterate that, for optically thick clouds, knowledge of cloud macrophysical properties can be more crucial to the modeling of the transfer of longwave radiation than the detailed description of cloud microphysical properties. Lastly, techniques for the inclusion of these finite-cloud effects in numerical models were explored. Accurate radiative heating rate profiles were achieved with a method that assumed a linear variation of the cloud fraction within the cloud layer. Parameterizations of the finite-cloud effects for the marine stratocumulus observed during ASTEX are presented.

Abstract

As numerical weather and climate prediction models demand more accurate treatment of clouds, the role of finite-cloud effects in longwave radiative transfer clearly warrants further study. In this research, finite-cloud effects are defined as the influence of cloud shape, size, and spatial arrangement on longwave radiative transfer. To show the magnitude of these effects, radiometer data collected in 1992 during the Atlantic Stratocumulus Transition Experiment (ASTEX) were analyzed. The ASTEX data showed that radiative transfer calculations that ignored the vertical dimensions of the clouds underestimated the longwave cloud radiative surface forcing by 30%, on average. To study further these finite-cloud effects, a three-dimensional 11-µm radiative transfer model was developed. Results from this model, which neglected scattering, agreed with the measurements taken during ASTEX on 14 June 1992. This model was also used to reiterate that, for optically thick clouds, knowledge of cloud macrophysical properties can be more crucial to the modeling of the transfer of longwave radiation than the detailed description of cloud microphysical properties. Lastly, techniques for the inclusion of these finite-cloud effects in numerical models were explored. Accurate radiative heating rate profiles were achieved with a method that assumed a linear variation of the cloud fraction within the cloud layer. Parameterizations of the finite-cloud effects for the marine stratocumulus observed during ASTEX are presented.

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