Estimating the direct aerosol radiative perturbation: impact of ocean surface representation and aerosol non-sphericity
Bellouin, N., Boucher, O., Vesperini, M. and Tanré, D. E. (2004) Estimating the direct aerosol radiative perturbation: impact of ocean surface representation and aerosol non-sphericity. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 130 (601). pp. 2217-2232. ISSN 1477-870X
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1256/qj.03.136
Atmospheric aerosols are now actively studied, in particular because of their radiative and climate impacts. Estimations of the direct aerosol radiative perturbation, caused by extinction of incident solar radiation, usually rely on radiative transfer codes and involve simplifying hypotheses. This paper addresses two approximations which are widely used for the sake of simplicity and limiting the computational cost of the calculations. Firstly, it is shown that using a Lambertian albedo instead of the more rigorous bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF) to model the ocean surface radiative properties leads to large relative errors in the instantaneous aerosol radiative perturbation. When averaging over the day, these errors cancel out to acceptable levels of less than 3% (except in the northern hemisphere winter). The other scope of this study is to address aerosol non-sphericity effects. Comparing an experimental phase function with an equivalent Mie-calculated phase function, we found acceptable relative errors if the aerosol radiative perturbation calculated for a given optical thickness is daily averaged. However, retrieval of the optical thickness of non-spherical aerosols assuming spherical particles can lead to significant errors. This is due to significant differences between the spherical and non-spherical phase functions. Discrepancies in aerosol radiative perturbation between the spherical and non-spherical cases are sometimes reduced and sometimes enhanced if the aerosol optical thickness for the spherical case is adjusted to fit the simulated radiance of the non-spherical case.