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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-1181
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-1181
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 09 Apr 2020

Submitted as: research article | 09 Apr 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

A test of the ability of current bulk optical models to represent the radiative properties of cirrus cloud across the mid-and far-infrared

Richard J. Bantges1,2, Helen E. Brindley1,2, Jonathan E. Murray2, Alan E. Last2, Cathryn Fox3, Stuart Fox3, Chawn Harlow3, Sebastian J. O'Shea4, Keith N. Bower4, Bryan A. Baum5, Ping Yang6, and Juliet C. Pickering2 Richard J. Bantges et al.
  • 1National Centre for Earth Observation, Imperial College London, UK
  • 2Physics Department, Imperial College London, UK
  • 3Met Office, UK
  • 4University of Manchester, UK
  • 5Science and Technology Corporation, Madison, USA
  • 6Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, USA

Abstract. Measurements of mid- to far-infrared nadir radiances obtained from the UK Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) BAe-146 aircraft during the Cirrus Coupled Cloud-Radiation Experiment (CIRCCREX) are used to assess the performance of various ice cloud bulk optical (single-scattering) property models. Through use of a minimisation approach, we find that the simulations can reproduce the observed spectra in the mid-infrared to within measurement uncertainty but are unable to simultaneously match the observations over the far-infrared frequency range. When both mid and far-infrared observations are used to minimise residuals, first order estimates of the flux differences between the best performing simulations and observations indicate a strong compensation effect between the mid and far infrared such that the absolute broadband difference is < 0.7 W m−2. However, simply matching the spectra using the mid-infrared observations in isolation leads to substantially larger discrepancies, with absolute differences reaching ~ 1.8 W m−2. These results highlight the benefit of far infrared observations for better constraining retrievals of cirrus cloud properties and their radiative impact, and provide guidance for the development of more realistic ice cloud optical models.

Richard J. Bantges et al.

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Richard J. Bantges et al.

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Latest update: 27 May 2020
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Short summary
Understanding how ice clouds influence the Earth's energy balance remains a key challenge for predicting the future climate. These clouds are ubiquitous and are composed of ice crystals that have complex shapes which are incredibly difficult to model. This work exploits new measurements of the Earth's emitted thermal energy made from instruments flown on board an aircraft to test how well the latest ice cloud models can represent these clouds. Results indicate further developments are required.
Understanding how ice clouds influence the Earth's energy balance remains a key challenge for...
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