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The Impact of Clouds on the Shortwave Radiation Budget of the Surface-Atmosphere System: Interfacing Measurements and Models

Robert D. CessInstitute for Terrestrial and Planetary Atmospheres, State University of New York, Story Brook, New York

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Seth NemesureInstitute for Terrestrial and Planetary Atmospheres, State University of New York, Story Brook, New York

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Ellsworth G. DuttonClimate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory, Environmental Research Laboratories/N0AA, Boulder, Colorado

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John J. DeluisiClimate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory, Environmental Research Laboratories/N0AA, Boulder, Colorado

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Gerald L. PotterLawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California

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Jean-Jacques MorcretteEuropean Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Reading, Berkshire, England

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Abstract

Two datasets have been combined to demonstrate how the availability of more comprehensive datasets could serve to elucidate the shortwave radiative impact of clouds on both the atmospheric column and the surface. These datasets consist of two measurements of net downward shortwave radiation: one of near-surface measurements made at the Boulder Atmospheric Observatory tower, and the other of collocated top-of-the-atmosphere measurements from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment. Output from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts General Circulation Model also has been used as an aid in interpreting the data, while the data have in turn been employed to validate the model's shortwave radiation code as it pertains to cloud radiation properties. Combined, the datasets and model demonstrate a strategy for determining under what conditions the shortwave radiative impact of clouds leads to a heating or cooling of the atmospheric column. The datasets also show, in terms of a linear slope-offset algorithm for retrieving the net downward shortwave radiation at the surface from satellite measurements, that the clouds present during this study produced a modest negative bias in the retrieved surface flux relative to that inferred from a clear-sky algorithm.

Abstract

Two datasets have been combined to demonstrate how the availability of more comprehensive datasets could serve to elucidate the shortwave radiative impact of clouds on both the atmospheric column and the surface. These datasets consist of two measurements of net downward shortwave radiation: one of near-surface measurements made at the Boulder Atmospheric Observatory tower, and the other of collocated top-of-the-atmosphere measurements from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment. Output from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts General Circulation Model also has been used as an aid in interpreting the data, while the data have in turn been employed to validate the model's shortwave radiation code as it pertains to cloud radiation properties. Combined, the datasets and model demonstrate a strategy for determining under what conditions the shortwave radiative impact of clouds leads to a heating or cooling of the atmospheric column. The datasets also show, in terms of a linear slope-offset algorithm for retrieving the net downward shortwave radiation at the surface from satellite measurements, that the clouds present during this study produced a modest negative bias in the retrieved surface flux relative to that inferred from a clear-sky algorithm.

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