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Uncertainties of parameterized near-surface downward longwave and clear-sky direct radiation

Author(s): S. Gubler | S. Gruber | R. S. Purves

Journal: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions
ISSN 1680-7367

Volume: 12;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 3357;
Date: 2012;
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As many environmental models rely on simulating the energy balance at the Earth's surface based on parameterized radiative fluxes, knowledge of the inherent uncertainties is important. In this study we evaluate one parameterization of clear-sky incoming shortwave radiation (SDR) and diverse parameterizations of clear-sky and all-sky incoming longwave radiation (LDR). In a first step, the clear-sky global SDR is estimated based measured input variables and mean parameter values for hourly time steps during the year 1996 to 2008, and validated using the high quality measurements of seven Alpine Surface Radiation Budget (ASRB) stations in Switzerland covering different elevations. Then, twelve clear-sky LDR parameterizations are fitted to the ASRB measurements. One of the best performing LDR parameterizations is chosen to estimate the all-sky LDR based on cloud transmissivity. Cloud transmissivity is estimated using measured and modeled global SDR during daytime. For the night, the performance of several interpolation methods is evaluated. Input variable and parameter uncertainties are assigned to estimate the total output uncertainty of the mentioned models, resulting in a mean relative uncertainty of 10% for the clear-sky direct, 15% for diffuse and 2.5% for global SDR, and 2.5% for the fitted all-sky LDR. Further, a function representing the uncertainty in dependence of the radiation is assigned for each model. Validation of the model outputs shows that direct SDR is underestimated (the mean error (ME) is around −33 W m−2), while diffuse radiation is overestimated (ME around 19 W m−2). The root mean squared error (RMSE) scatters around 60 W m−2 for direct, and 40 W m−2 for diffuse SDR. The best behaviour is found, due to the compensating effects of direct and diffuse SDR, for global SDR with MEs around −13 W m−2 and RMSEs around 40 W m−2. The ME of the fitted all-sky LDR is around ±10 W m−2, and the RMSE goes up to 40 W m−2. This is obtained by linearly interpolating the average of the cloud transmissivity of the four hours of the preceeding afternoon and the following morning.
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