An error methodology based on surface observations to compute the top of the atmosphere, clear-sky shortwave flux model errors
Anantharaj, Valentine (Valentine Gunasekaran)
AdvisorKing, Roger L.
CommitteeFitzpatrick, Patrick J.
Global Climate Models (GCMs) are indispensable tools for modeling climate change projections. Due to approximations, errors are introduced in the GCM computations of atmospheric radiation. The existing methodologies for the comparison of the GCM-computed shortwave fluxes (SWF) exiting the top of the atmosphere (TOA) against satellite observations do not separate the model errors in terms of the atmospheric and surface components. A new methodology has been developed for estimating the GCM systematic errors in the SWF at the TOA under clear-sky (CS) conditions. The new methodology is based on physical principles and utilizes in-situ measurements of SWF at the surface. This error adjustment methodology (EAM) has been validated by comparing GCM results against satellite measurements from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) mission. The EAM was implemented in an error estimation model for solar radiation (EEMSR), and then applied to examine the hypothesis that the Community Climate System Model (CCSM), one of the most widely used GCMs, was deficient in representing the annual phenology of vegetation in many areas, and that satellite measurements of vegetation characteristics offered the means to rectify the problem. The CCSM computed monthly climatologies of TOA-CS-SWF were compared to the CERES climatology. The incorporation of satellite-derived land surface parameters improved the TOA SWF in many regions. However, for more meaningful interpretations of the comparisons, it was necessary to account for the uncertainties arising from the radiation calculations of CCSM. In-situ measurements from two sites were used by EMBC to relate the observations and model estimates via a predictive equation to derive the errors in TOA CS-SWF for monthly climatologies. The model climatologies were adjusted using the computed error and then compared to CERES climatology at the two sites. The new results showed that at one of the sites, CCSM consistently overestimated the atmospheric transmissivity whereas at the other site the CCSM overestimated during the spring, summer and early fall and underestimated during late fall and winter. The bias adjustment using the EMBC helped determine more clearly that at the two sites the utilization of satellite-derived land surface parameters improved the TOA CS-SWF.