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Proceedings Paper

Atmospheric and surface cloud radiative forcing: results from climate models
Author(s): David A. Randall
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Paper Abstract

Cloud radiative forcing (CRF) is the difference between the radiative flux (at the top of the atmosphere, say) which actually occurs in the presence of clouds, and that which would occur if the clouds were removed but the atmospheric state were otherwise unchanged1'2. We also use the term CRF to denote warming or cooling tendencies due to cloud-radiation interactions. Cloud feedback is the change in CRF that accompanies a climate change. It is useful to distinguish among three aspects of the CRF: the "planetary CRF" acting at the top of the atmosphere, the "surface CRF" at the Earth's surface, and the "atmospheric CRF," which acts on the atmosphere itself and is the difference between the planetary and surface CRFs. The planetary CRF, which can be observed from satellites, can be thought of as the sum of the surface CRF and the atmospheric CRF. Because clouds do not absorb much solar radiation, the atmospheric CRF (hereafter, ACRF) is almost entirely due to interactions of the clouds with infrared radiation. The surface CRF involves important contributions from both solar and infrared radiation. Its solar component is strongly correlated with the solar portion of the planetary CRY, and so may be relatively easy to infer from space observations. The infrared surface CRF is much more difficult to observe. This paper presents climate model results concerning the magnitudes, distribution, causes, and consequences of the atmospheric and surface CRF. A review of some earlier studies is combined with a brief presentation of new, previously unpublished results.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 September 1990
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 1299, Long-Term Monitoring of the Earth's Radiation Budget, (1 September 1990); doi: 10.1117/12.21360
Show Author Affiliations
David A. Randall, Colorado State Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1299:
Long-Term Monitoring of the Earth's Radiation Budget
Bruce R. Barkstrom, Editor(s)

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