Observation-Based Longwave Cloud Radiative Kernels Derived from the A-Train

Yue, Q., B. H. Kahn, E. J. Fetzer, M. M. Schreier, S. Wong, X. Chen, and X. Huang (2016), Observation-Based Longwave Cloud Radiative Kernels Derived from the A-Train, J. Climate, 29, 2023-2040, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0257.1.

The authors present a new method to derive both the broadband and spectral longwave observation-based cloud radiative kernels (CRKs) using cloud radiative forcing (CRF) and cloud fraction (CF) for different cloud types using multisensor A-Train observations and MERRA data collocated on the pixel scale. Both observation-based CRKs and model-based CRKs derived from the Fu–Liou radiative transfer model are shown. Good agreement between observation- and model-derived CRKs is found for optically thick clouds. For optically thin clouds, the observation-based CRKs show a larger radiative sensitivity at TOA to cloud-cover change than model-derived CRKs. Four types of possible uncertainties in the observed CRKs are investigated: 1) uncertainties in Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer cloud properties, 2) the contributions of clearsky changes to the CRF, 3) the assumptions regarding clear-sky thresholds in the observations, and 4) the assumption of a single-layer cloud. The observation-based CRKs show the TOA radiative sensitivity of cloud types to unit cloud fraction change as observed by the A-Train. Therefore, a combination of observation-based CRKs with cloud changes observed by these instruments over time will provide an estimate of the short-term cloud feedback by maintaining consistency between CRKs and cloud responses to climate variability.

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