24 May 2024
 | 24 May 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

The impact of coupled 3D radiative transfer on surface radiation and cumulus clouds over land

Mirjam Tijhuis, Bart J. H. van Stratum, and Chiel C. van Heerwaarden

Abstract. Radiative transfer is a 3D process, but most atmospheric models consider radiation only in the vertical direction for computational efficiency. This results in inaccurate surface radiation fields, as the horizontal transport of radiation is neglected. Previous work on 3D radiative effects mainly used 3D radiative transfer uncoupled from the flow solver. In contrast, our current work uses 3D radiative transfer coupled to the flow solver to study its impact on the development of clouds and the resulting impact on the domain-averaged surface solar irradiance. To this end, we performed a series of realistic Large-Eddy simulations with MicroHH. To improve the level of realism of our radiation, we first included the direct effect of aerosols using aerosol data from the CAMS global reanalysis. Next, we performed simulations with 1D radiative transfer and with a coupled ray tracer, for 12 days on which shallow cumulus clouds formed over Cabauw, the Netherlands. In general, simulations with the coupled ray tracer have a higher domain-averaged liquid water path, larger clouds, and similar cloud cover compared to simulations with 1D radiative transfer. Furthermore, the domain-averaged direct radiation is decreased with 3D radiative transfer and the diffuse radiation is increased. However, the average difference in global radiation is less than 1 W m-2, as the increase in global radiation from uncoupled 3D radiative transfer is counterbalanced by a decrease in global radiation caused by changes in cloud properties.

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Mirjam Tijhuis, Bart J. H. van Stratum, and Chiel C. van Heerwaarden

Status: open (until 05 Jul 2024)

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Mirjam Tijhuis, Bart J. H. van Stratum, and Chiel C. van Heerwaarden
Mirjam Tijhuis, Bart J. H. van Stratum, and Chiel C. van Heerwaarden


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Short summary
Radiative transfer in the atmosphere is a 3D processes, which is often modelled in 1D for computational efficiency. We studied the differences between using 1D and 3D radiative transfer. With 3D radiation, larger clouds develop that contain more liquid water. However, they cover roughly the same part of the sky, and the average total radiation at the surface is nearly unchanged. The increase in cloud size might be important for weather models, as it can impact e.g. the formation of rain.