Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, vol. 13, issue 5 (2013) pp. 2347-2379
In this study we examine the performance of 31 global model radiative transfer schemes in cloud-free conditions with prescribed gaseous absorbers and no aerosols (Rayleigh atmosphere), with prescribed scattering-only aerosols, and with more absorbing aerosols. Results are compared to benchmark results from high-resolution, multi-angular line-by-line radiation models. For purely scattering aerosols, model bias relative to the line-by-line models in the top-of-the atmosphere aerosol radiative forcing ranges from roughly −10 to 20%, with over- and underestimates of radiative cooling at lower and higher solar zenith angle, respectively. Inter-model diversity (relative standard deviation) increases from ~10 to 15% as solar zenith angle decreases. Inter-model diversity in atmospheric and surface forcing decreases with increased aerosol absorption, indicating that the treatment of multiple-scattering is more variable than aerosol absorption in the models considered. Aerosol radiative forcing results from multi-stream models are generally in better agreement with the line-by-line results than the simpler two-stream schemes. Considering radiative fluxes, model performance is generally the same or slightly better than results from previous radiation scheme intercomparisons. However, the inter-model diversity in aerosol radiative forcing remains large, primarily as a result of the treatment of multiple-scattering. Results indicate that global models that estimate aerosol radiative forcing with two-stream radiation schemes may be subject to persistent biases introduced by these schemes, particularly for regional aerosol forcing.
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