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Publication Date
1 June 2016

Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences



While current atmospheric general circulation models (GCMs) still treat the surface as a blackbody in their longwave radiation scheme, recent studies suggest the need of taking realistic surface spectral emissivity into account. There has been few measurements available for the surface emissivity in the far IR (<650 cm-1). Based on first-principle calculation, we compute the spectral emissivity over the entire longwave spectrum for a variety of surface types. MODIS-retrieved mid-IR surface emissivity at 0.05°×0.05° spatial resolution is then regressed against the calculated spectral emissivity to determine the surface type for each grid. The derived spectral emissivity data is then spatially averaged onto 0.5°×0.5° grids and spectrally integrated onto the bandwidths used by the RRTMG_LW, a longwave radiation scheme widely used in current climate and numerical weather models. The band-by-band surface emissivity data set is then compared with retrieved surface spectral emissivities from IASI (Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer) measurements. The comparison shows favorable agreements between two data sets in all the bands covered by the IASI measurements. We further use the data set in conjunction with ECMWF ERA-interim reanalysis to evaluate its impact on the top-of-atmosphere radiation budget. Depending on the blackbody surface assumptions used in the original calculation, the globally averaged difference caused by the inclusion of realistic surface emissivity ranges from -1.2 to -1.5 Wm-2 for clear-sky OLR and from -0.67 to -0.94 Wm-2 for all-sky OLR. Moreover, the difference is not spatially uniform and has a distinct spatial pattern.

“Journal Of The Atmospheric Sciences”. 2016. Journal Of The Atmospheric Sciences 73. doi:10.1175/JAS-D-15-0355.1.
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