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Water vapour foreign-continuum absorption in near-infrared windows from laboratory measurements

Ptashnik, I. V., McPheat, R. A., Shine, K. P., Smith, K. M. and Williams, R.G. (2012) Water vapour foreign-continuum absorption in near-infrared windows from laboratory measurements. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 370 (1968). pp. 2557-2577. ISSN 1364-503X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2011.0218


For a long time, it has been believed that atmospheric absorption of radiation within wavelength regions of relatively high infrared transmittance (so-called ‘windows’) was dominated by the water vapour self-continuum, that is, spectrally smooth absorption caused by H2O−H2O pair interaction. Absorption due to the foreign continuum (i.e. caused mostly by H2O−N2 bimolecular absorption in the Earth's atmosphere) was considered to be negligible in the windows. We report new retrievals of the water vapour foreign continuum from high-resolution laboratory measurements at temperatures between 350 and 430 K in four near-infrared windows between 1.1 and 5 μm (9000–2000 cm−1). Our results indicate that the foreign continuum in these windows has a very weak temperature dependence and is typically between one and two orders of magnitude stronger than that given in representations of the continuum currently used in many climate and weather prediction models. This indicates that absorption owing to the foreign continuum may be comparable to the self-continuum under atmospheric conditions in the investigated windows. The calculated global-average clear-sky atmospheric absorption of solar radiation is increased by approximately 0.46 W m−2 (or 0.6% of the total clear-sky absorption) by using these new measurements when compared with calculations applying the widely used MTCKD (Mlawer–Tobin–Clough–Kneizys–Davies) foreign-continuum model.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:28897
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing

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