Surface Albedo (surface + albedo)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Role of land cover changes for atmospheric CO2 increase and climate change during the last 150 years

Victor Brovkin
Abstract We assess the role of changing natural (volcanic, aerosol, insolation) and anthropogenic (CO2 emissions, land cover) forcings on the global climate system over the last 150 years using an earth system model of intermediate complexity, CLIMBER-2. We apply several datasets of historical land-use reconstructions: the cropland dataset by Ramankutty & Foley (1999) (R&F), the HYDE land cover dataset of Klein Goldewijk (2001), and the land-use emissions data from Houghton & Hackler (2002). Comparison between the simulated and observed temporal evolution of atmospheric CO2 and ,13CO2 are used to evaluate these datasets. To check model uncertainty, CLIMBER-2 was coupled to the more complex Lund,Potsdam,Jena (LPJ) dynamic global vegetation model. In simulation with R&F dataset, biogeophysical mechanisms due to land cover changes tend to decrease global air temperature by 0.26°C, while biogeochemical mechanisms act to warm the climate by 0.18°C. The net effect on climate is negligible on a global scale, but pronounced over the land in the temperate and high northern latitudes where a cooling due to an increase in land surface albedo offsets the warming due to land-use CO2 emissions. Land cover changes led to estimated increases in atmospheric CO2 of between 22 and 43 ppmv. Over the entire period 1800,2000, simulated ,13CO2 with HYDE compares most favourably with ice core during 1850,1950 and Cape Grim data, indicating preference of earlier land clearance in HYDE over R&F. In relative terms, land cover forcing corresponds to 25,49% of the observed growth in atmospheric CO2. This contribution declined from 36,60% during 1850,1960 to 4,35% during 1960,2000. CLIMBER-2-LPJ simulates the land cover contribution to atmospheric CO2 growth to decrease from 68% during 1900,1960 to 12% in the 1980s. Overall, our simulations show a decline in the relative role of land cover changes for atmospheric CO2 increase during the last 150 years. [source]

Assessing the effects of post-pine beetle forest litter on snow albedo

Rita Winkler
Abstract The effect of forest litter on snow surface albedo has been subject to limited study, mainly in the hardwood-dominated forests of the northeastern United States. Given the recent pine beetle infestation in Western North America and associated increases in litter production, this study examines the effects of forest litter on snow surface albedo in the coniferous forests of south-central British Columbia. Measured changes in canopy transmittance provide an indication of canopy loss or total litterfall over the winter of 2007,2008. Relationships between percent litter cover, an index of albedo, snow depth, and snow ablation during the 2008 melt season are compared between a mature, young, and clearcut coniferous stand. Results indicate a strong feedback effect between canopy loss and subsequent enhanced shortwave transmittance, and litter accumulation on the snow surface from that canopy loss. However, this relationship is confounded by other variables concurrently affecting albedo. While results suggest that a relatively small percent litter cover can have a significant effect on albedo and ablation, further research is underway to extract the litter signal from that of other factors affecting albedo, particularly snow depth. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

Impact of spatial variations of land surface parameters on regional evaporation: a case study with remote sensing data

Hussein O. Farah
Abstract Most precipitation in watersheds is consumed by evaporation, thus techniques to appraise regional evaporation are important to assess the availability of water resources. Many algorithms to estimate evaporation from remotely sensed spectral data have been developed in the recent past. In addition to differences in the physical parameterization of surface fluxes, these algorithms have different solutions for describing spatial variations of the parameters in the soil,vegetation,atmosphere,transfer (SVAT) continuum. In this study, the necessity to spatially distinguish SVAT parameters for computing surface heat fluxes is analysed for the Naivasha watershed in the Kenyan Rift Valley. Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) spectral data have been used to first delineate the watershed into 15 hydrological units using surface temperature, normalized difference vegetation index and surface albedo as attributes. Thereafter, semi-empirical relationships between these TM-based parameters and other SVAT parameters have been applied to compute the spatial variation of SVAT parameters and the associated evaporation from the different hydrological units. The impact of using watershed-constant or watershed-distributed SVAT parameters on the fluxes is analysed. The determination of watershed averaged evaporation with area-aggregated SVAT parameters is feasible without significant loss of accuracy. Distributed evaporation in heterogeneous watersheds, however, can be investigated only with remote sensing flux algorithms that can account for spatially variable air temperature, surface roughness, surface albedo and the stability correction of the temperature profile due to buoyancy. Erroneous results can be expected if area-aggregated SVAT parameters are used to calculate local evaporation. As most of the recently developed remote sensing flux algorithms are based on areal constant SVAT parameters, direct applications in watersheds are still limited. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

Mass balance of a slope glacier on Kilimanjaro and its sensitivity to climate

Thomas Mölg
Abstract Meteorological and glaciological measurements obtained at 5873 m a.s.l. on Kersten Glacier, a slope glacier on the southern flanks of Kilimanjaro, are used to run a physically-based mass balance model for the period February 2005 to January 2006. This shows that net shortwave radiation is the most variable energy flux at the glacier-atmosphere interface, governed by surface albedo. The majority of the mass loss (,65%) is due to sublimation (direct conversion of snow/ice to water vapour), with melting of secondary importance. Sensitivity experiments reveal that glacier mass balance is 2,4 times more sensitive to a 20% precipitation change than to a 1 °C air temperature change. These figures also hold when the model is run with input data representative of a longer term (1979,2004) mean period. Results suggest that a regional-scale moisture projection for the 21st century is crucial to a physically-based prediction of glacier retention on Africa's highest mountain. Copyright © 2007 Royal Meteorological Society [source]

Causes of variability in the summertime Antarctic boundary-layer climate

Dirk van As
Abstract A high-resolution one-dimensional atmospheric model is used to assess the contribution of various surface characteristics and external forcings on the structure and dynamics of the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) over the Antarctic Plateau in summer. The reference run simulates the boundary layer over a mildly sloping surface (1.5 m km,1) for a clear sky near the end of the Antarctic summer (31 January-3 February). The ABL depth is approximately 100 m. At night, a low-level jet forms due to the combined effect of katabatic forcing and an inertial oscillation. During the day a convective mixed layer is present. As expected, the ABL is very sensitive to surface slope; a larger slope forces higher wind speeds and a deeper boundary layer. Over a horizontal surface, a nocturnal jet is also found as a result of the inertial oscillation. A modest change in surface albedo alters the mixed-layer temperature and the height and strength of the nocturnal jet considerably. Rotating the large-scale wind relative to the slope direction also has a large impact on ABL depth and structure. The deepest boundary layer and largest wind speed over a northward down-sloping surface are found for an easterly (cross slope) large-scale wind, as is typical for Antarctica. A very shallow ABL with low wind speed is found for the opposite large-scale wind direction. ABL sensitivity to surface roughness was found to be small. For all experiments, the ABL sensitivity is enhanced due to the positive feedback between the cooling of the ABL and katabatic wind speed. Copyright © 2007 Royal Meteorological Society [source]

Validation of ECMWF (re)analysis surface climate data, 1979,1998, for Greenland and implications for mass balance modelling of the ice sheet

Edward Hanna
Abstract Climate (re)analysis products are potentially valuable tools, when properly verified, for helping to constrain the surface mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS). Monthly surface fields from European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) operational- and re-analyses spanning 1979,1998 were validated using in situ data (surface air pressure and temperature, precipitation, cloud cover, short-/all-wave radiation, and wind speed/direction). These validation data are from coastal or near-coastal Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) synoptic stations, inland Greenland Climate Network (GC-Net) and University of Wisconsin Automatic Weather Stations (AWSs), and two energy balance stations near the southern ice margin. The ECMWF analyses closely reproduce the seasonal patterns and interannual variations of much of the in situ data. Differences in the mean values of surface air pressure and temperature can mainly be ascribed to orography errors in the analyses' schemes, compared with the latest available accurate digital elevation model. Much of the GIS margin as modelled by ECMWF was too cold, on average by 4°C, and ECMWF precipitation averaged some 136% of the DMI station values. The misrepresentation of the (relatively) steep ice-sheet margin, which tends to be broadened and systematically over-elevated by several hundred metres, orographically reduced temperature and enhanced precipitation there in the ECMWF models. The cloud-cover comparison revealed not dissimilar annual mean cloud covers (ECMWF ,8%) but the ECMWF analyses had too little cloud and were too ,sunny' during the critical summer melt-season. ECMWF-modelled surface albedo in summer was ,11% lower than GC-Net values, which was mainly responsible for the disagreement of modelled surface short-wave radiation fluxes with observations. Model albedo and cloud errors need to be rectified if the analyses are to be used effectively to drive energy balance models of Greenland snowmelt. ECMWF wind speed averaged 66% (62%) of the DMI station (AWS) values. The validation results provide useful insights into how one can best improve the ECMWF Greenland climate data for use in glaciological and climatological studies. Copyright © 2001 Royal Meteorological Society [source]

Mie simulations as an error source in mineral aerosol radiative forcing calculations

M. Kahnert
Abstract The role of aerosols remains a major uncertainty for climate and climate change. For the direct radiative forcing by mineral aerosols, the uncertainty in the refractive index m has been regarded as the most important error source, while the impact of aerosol non-sphericity has been considered a minor issue and is neglected in climate models. Here, the errors caused by the spherical particle approximation (SPA) are evaluated by comparing radiative fluxes based on (i) Mie simulations and (ii) laboratory measurements of aerosol optical properties. Furthermore, they are contrasted with the errors related to the uncertainty in the refractive index. These two error sources are found to be of comparable magnitude, although they are strongly dependent on optical depth, surface albedo, and particle size. Thus, our results provide evidence that, contrary to common beliefs, the use of spherical model particles in radiative transfer simulations is probably among the major sources of error in quantifying the climate forcing effect of mineral aerosols. This stems from misrepresentation of the scattering phase function and the asymmetry parameter. Aerosol single-scattering computations based on non-spherical model particles are expected to reduce the shape-related errors and thus significantly improve the accuracy of radiative forcing simulations. Copyright © 2007 Royal Meteorological Society [source]

Effects of CO2 and dust on present-day solar radiation and climate on Mars

Hannu Savijärvi
Abstract A comprehensive spectrum-resolving radiative transfer model (SRM) was used to simulate the average, present-day, solar radiation field on Mars. A CO2 -only 6 hPa Martian atmosphere absorbs about 1% of zenith solar radiation, producing a modest heating rate of 4,5 K day,1 in the lowest 10 km. The trace gases have an insignificant effect but airborne dust reduces the downwelling solar flux effectively, and the reflected flux somewhat less. This produces an anti-greenhouse trend (cooling at the surface, warming within the atmosphere, reflection at the top), which increases strongly with the dust load. For instance, with dust visible optical depth of unity and sun in zenith, the surface solar irradiation is attenuated by 26% and the solar heating rate increases to about 70 K day,1 in the lowest 25 km. The numbers are however strongly dependent on the optical properties of the dust, which are not known very well. Several fast two-stream methods for dust were compared with the SRM results. Their common systematic errors were reduced by a simple, physically-based correction. The global albedo of Mars was then studied as a function of dust load, dust optics and surface albedo. The crossover from added airborne dust tending to make the whole planet look whiter or darker occurred at surface albedo of about 35%, nearly independently of the dust load. We demonstrate, however, that this value is sensitive to the optical properties of the assumed dust. Copyright © 2005 Royal Meteorological Society [source]