The effect of cumulus cloud field anisotropy on domain-averaged solar fluxes and atmospheric heating rates

Laura M. Hinkelman, K. Franklin Evans, Eugene E. Clothiaux, Thomas P. Ackerman, Paul W. Stackhouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cumulus clouds can become tilted or elongated in the presence of wind shear. Nevertheless, most studies of the interaction of cumulus clouds and radiation have assumed these clouds to be isotropic. This paper describes an investigation of the effect of fair-weather cumulus cloud field anisotropy on domain-averaged solar fluxes and atmospheric heating rate profiles. A stochastic field generation algorithm was used to produce 20 three-dimensional liquid water content fields based on the statistical properties of cloud scenes from a large eddy simulation. Progressively greater degrees of x-z plane tilting and horizontal stretching were imposed on each of these scenes, so that an ensemble of scenes was produced for each level of distortion. The resulting scenes were used as input to a three-dimensional Monte Carlo radiative transfer model. Domain-averaged transmission, reflection, and absorption of broadband solar radiation were computed for each scene along with the average heating rate profile. Both tilt and horizontal stretching were found to significantly affect calculated fluxes, with the amount and sign of flux differences depending strongly on sun position relative to cloud distortion geometry. The mechanisms by which anisotropy interacts with solar fluxes were investigated by comparisons to independent pixel approximation and tilted independent pixel approximation computations for the same scenes. Cumulus anisotropy was found to most strongly impact solar radiative transfer by changing the effective cloud fraction (i.e., the cloud fraction with respect to the solar beam direction).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3499-3520
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Volume64
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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