06 Nov 2023
 | 06 Nov 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

An improved and extended parameterization of the CO2 15 µm cooling in the middle/upper atmosphere

Manuel López-Puertas, Federico Fabiano, Victor Fomichev, Bernd Funke, and Daniel R. Marsh

Abstract. The radiative infrared cooling of CO2 in the middle atmosphere, where it emits under non-Local Thermodynamic Equilibrium (non-LTE) conditions, is a crucial contribution to the energy balance of this region and hence to establishing its thermal structure. The non-LTE computation is too CPU time-consuming to be fully incorporated in climate models and hence it is parameterized. The most used parameterization of the CO2 15 μm cooling for the Earth's middle and upper atmosphere was developed by Fomichev et al. (1998). The valid range of this parameterization with respect to CO2 volume mixing ratios (VMR) is, however, exceeded by the CO2 of several scenarios considered in the Coupled Climate Model Intercomparison Projects; in particular, the abrupt-4xCO2 experiment. Therefore, an extension, as well as an update, of that parameterization is both needed and timely. In this work, we present an update of the parameterization developed by Fomichev et al. (1998), which now covers COvolume mixing ratios in the lower atmosphere from ~0.5 to over 10 times the CO2 pre-industrial value of 284 ppmv (i.e., 150 ppmv to 3000 ppmv). Furthermore, it is improved by using a more contemporary CO2 line list and collisional rates that affect the CO2 cooling rates. Overall, accuracy is improved when tested against reference line-by-line calculations and by using measured global temperature profiles of the middle atmosphere. On average the errors are below 0.5 K day-1 for the present-day and lower CO2 VMRs. The errors increase to ~1–2 K day-1 at altitudes between 100–120 km for CO2 concentrations of two to three times the preindustrial values. For very high CO2 concentrations (four to ten times the pre-industrial abundances) the errors are below ~1 K day-1 for most regions and conditions, except at 110–120 km where the parameterization overestimates them by ~1.5 %. When applied to a large dataset of global (pole-to-pole and four seasons) measured temperature profiles, the errors of the parameterization are generally below 0.5 K day-1, except between 5⋅10-3 hPa and 3⋅10-4 hPa (~85–95 km), where they can reach biases of 1–2 K day-1. However, for elevated stratopause events, it underestimates the cooling rates by 3–7 K day-1 (~10 %) at altitudes of 80–100 km and the parameterized cooling rates show a large spread when compared to reference calculations.

Manuel López-Puertas et al.

Status: open (until 01 Jan 2024)

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Manuel López-Puertas et al.

Manuel López-Puertas et al.


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Short summary
The radiative infrared cooling of CO2 in the middle atmosphere is crucial for computing its thermal structure. It requires however to include non-Local Thermodynamic Equilibrium processes which are computationally very expensive, so much that we cannot afford to include them in full in climate models. In this work, we present an updated, efficient and accurate parameterization of that cooling able to cope with CO2 abundances from half the preindustrial values to 10 times the current abundance.