Solar spectral weight at low cloud tops

J. Li, S. M. Freidenreich, V. Ramaswamy

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3 Scopus citations


The spectral distribution of the incoming solar irradiance varies substantially from the top of the atmosphere to the surface. This occurs because of the selective spectral attenuation by the various atmospheric constituents. Using a line-by-line and doubling-adding solar radiative transfer model, we formulate a prescription that accounts for this variation in the spectral solar irradiance and thereby determine the appropriate spectral weights for low clouds. The results are sufficiently general with respect to cloud top heights ranging from 680 to 860 mbar, while the range of applicability in terms of the solar zenith position extends to sun angles less than 75°. On the basis of the results here we suggest a reference cloud top height of 760 mbar and a reference zenith angle of 53°. The error in the radiative quantities relative to the "benchmark" calculations is generally less than 5% in most of the spectral bands. As a simple application, it is found that the enhancement of cloud absorption in a two band cloud optical properties parameterization can be largely avoided by using this simple modification of the solar spectral irradiance incident at the top of low-lying clouds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11139-11143
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 27 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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