A test of the ability of current bulk optical models to represent the radiative properties of cirrus cloud across the mid- and far-infrared Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract. Measurements of mid- to far-infrared nadir radiances obtained from the UK Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) BAe146 aircraft during the Cirrus Coupled Cloud-Radiation Experiment (CIRCCREX) are used to assess the performance of various ice cloud bulk optical property models. Through use of a minimization approach, we find that the simulations can reproduce the observed spectra in the mid-infrared to within measurement uncertainty, but they are unable to simultaneously match the observations over the far-infrared frequency range. When both mid- and far-infrared observations are used to minimize residuals, first-order estimates of the spectral flux differences between the best-performing simulations and observations indicate a compensation effect between the mid- and far-infrared such that the absolute broadband difference is <0.7Wm2. However, simply matching the spectra using the mid-infrared (far-infrared) observations in isolation leads to substantially larger discrepancies, with absolute differences reaching 1.8 (3.1)Wm2. These results show that simulations using these microphysical models may give a broadly correct integrated longwave radiative impact but that this masks spectral errors, with implicit consequences for the vertical distribution of atmospheric heating. They also imply that retrievals using these models applied to mid-infrared radiances in isolation will select cirrus optical properties that are inconsistent with far-infrared radiances. As such, the results highlight the potential benefit of more extensive far-infrared observations for the assessment and, where necessary, the improvement of current ice bulk optical models.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Bantges, R. J., Brindley, H. E., Murray, J. E., Last, A. E., Russell, J. E., Fox, C., ... Pickering, J. C.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Bantges, Richard J||Brindley, Helen E||Murray, Jonathan E||Last, Alan E||Russell, Jacqueline E||Fox, Cathryn||Fox, Stuart||Harlow, Chawn||O'Shea, Sebastian J||Bower, Keith N||Baum, Bryan A||Yang, Ping||Oetjen, Hilke||Pickering, Juliet C

publication date

  • November 2020