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Publication Date
27 April 2024

Surface and Atmospheric Heating Responses to Spectrally Resolved Albedo of Frozen and Liquid Water Surfaces



Multiple Earth system models (ESMs) discretize surface albedo into two semi‐broadbands comprising the UV/visible and near‐infrared (NIR) wavelengths. Here, we use an offline single‐column radiative transfer model to investigate the radiative effects of spectrally resolving the surface albedo. We use the Snow, Ice, and Aerosol Radiative model, extended to simulate liquid water, to calculate snow, ice, and liquid water albedo. We flux‐weight the hyperspectral albedo into the coarser spectral bands used by the atmospheric shortwave radiative transfer model. We establish representative atmospheric profiles for the three surface types and compare their shortwave fluxes and atmospheric warming rates with the spectrally resolved albedo to those calculated with the semi‐broadband approximation. Spectrally resolved surface albedo over snow and ice reduces atmospheric warming by darkening the albedo of NIR bands, correcting the too‐strong surface absorption in visible bands, and too‐weak surface absorption in shortwave infrared bands caused by the semi‐broadband approximation. We explore the effects on surface and atmospheric warming rates of varying solar zenith angle, cloud cover, relative humidity, and snow grain/air bubble radii. The semi‐broadband albedo biases can exceed 10% and 2% for the surface and atmospheric net flux respectively, being particularly strong under conditions which alter the distributions of surface insolation (i.e., cloud cover or increased atmospheric water vapor). These results show that transmitting a higher resolution spectral radiation field between the atmosphere and surface reduces biases in surface absorption and atmospheric heating present in ESMs that currently use the semi‐broadband approximation.

Tolento, Juan P., Charles S. Zender, and Chloe A. Whicker‐Clarke. 2024. “Surface And Atmospheric Heating Responses To Spectrally Resolved Albedo Of Frozen And Liquid Water Surfaces”. Journal Of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 129 (9). American Geophysical Union (AGU). doi:10.1029/2023jd039824.
Funding Program Area(s)
Additional Resources:
NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center)