BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


New Approach for Simultaneously Retrieving Cloud Brightness and Amount from Surface Measurements
Published: October 30, 2013
Posted: February 07, 2014

As climate changes, clouds respond in multiple ways. Observing these various responses consistently is challenging, making the science of cloud-climate interactions especially difficult. Two ways that clouds respond to climate change include the fraction of a region covered by clouds, and cloud brightness resulting from changes in cloud droplet number or phase (i.e., water versus ice). Surface-based measurements of sunlight or “solar radiation” contain valuable information needed to understand these cloud properties, but they have not been fully utilized. Department of Energy researchers have developed a new approach that simultaneously infers cloud brightness (or “albedo”) and cloud fraction from surface-based measurements of solar radiative fluxes. The radiative fluxes include both the “direct” incoming radiation, as well as “diffuse” radiation that includes radiation scattered from clouds, land, and atmospheric particles. Cloud fraction is primarily determined by the difference between all-sky and clear-sky “direct” radiation. The cloud brightness calculation incorporates further information from diffuse as well as direct radiation. The new method is tested using a computer algorithm that combines various types of measurements, including both satellite and surface measurements. The new approach demonstrates the utility of partitioning total radiation into direct and diffuse components, eliminating the potential contamination of errors in existing approaches that retrieve cloud fraction and cloud albedo separately. The method also has the potential for a consistent model evaluation.

Reference: Xie, Y., and Y. Liu. 2013. “A New Approach for Simultaneously Retrieving Cloud Albedo and Cloud Fraction from Surface-Based Shortwave Radiation Measurements,” Environmental Research Letters 8, 044023. DOI:10.1088/1748-9326/8/4/044023. (Reference link)

Contact: Dorothy Koch, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0105, Sally McFarlane, SC-23.1, (301) 903-0943
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Earth and Environmental Systems Modeling
  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research

Division: SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Mar 23, 2021
Molecular Connections from Plants to Fungi to Ants
Lipids transfer energy and serve as an inter-kingdom communication tool in leaf-cutter ants&rsqu [more...]

Mar 19, 2021
Microbes Use Ancient Metabolism to Cycle Phosphorus
Microbial cycling of phosphorus through reduction-oxidation reactions is older and more widespre [more...]

Feb 22, 2021
Warming Soil Means Stronger Microbe Networks
Soil warming leads to more complex, larger, and more connected networks of microbes in those soi [more...]

Jan 27, 2021
Labeling the Thale Cress Metabolites
New data pipeline identifies metabolites following heavy isotope labeling.

Analysis [more...]

Aug 31, 2020
Novel Bacterial Clade Reveals Origin of Form I Rubisco
Objectives

  • All plant biomass is sourced from the carbon-fixing enzyme Rub [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)