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Impact of Clouds on the Shortwave Radiation Budget of the Surface-Atmosphere System for Snow-Covered Surfaces

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  • 1 Institute for Terrestrial and Planetary Atmospheres, Marine Sciences Research Center, State University of New York Stony Brook, New York
  • | 2 Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory, Environmental Research Laboratories/N0AA, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 3 Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • | 4 Department of atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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Abstract

Recent data from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) have raised the question as to whether or not the addition of clouds to the atmospheric column can decrease the top-of-the-atmosphere (TOA) albedo over bright snow-covered surfaces. To address this issue, ERBE shortwave pixel measurements have been collocated with surface insolation measurements made at two snow-covered locations: the South Pole and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Both collocated datasets show a negative correlation (with solar zenith angle variability removed) between TOA albedo and surface insulation. Because increased cloudiness acts to reduce surface insulation, these negative correlations demonstrate that clouds increase the TOA albedo at both snow-covered locations.

Abstract

Recent data from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) have raised the question as to whether or not the addition of clouds to the atmospheric column can decrease the top-of-the-atmosphere (TOA) albedo over bright snow-covered surfaces. To address this issue, ERBE shortwave pixel measurements have been collocated with surface insolation measurements made at two snow-covered locations: the South Pole and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Both collocated datasets show a negative correlation (with solar zenith angle variability removed) between TOA albedo and surface insulation. Because increased cloudiness acts to reduce surface insulation, these negative correlations demonstrate that clouds increase the TOA albedo at both snow-covered locations.

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