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coastal cloud energy

Cloud Energy management

 


The role of fractional area coverage by cloud types in the energy balance of the earth is investigated through joint use of International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) C1 cloud data and Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) broadband energy flux data for the one-year period March 1985 through February 1986. Multiple linear regression is used to relate the radiation budget data to the cloud data. Comparing cloud forcing estimates obtained from the ISCCP-ERBE regression with those derived from the ERBE scene identification shows generally good agreement except over snow, in tropical convective regions, and in regions that are either nearly cloudless or always overcast. It is suggested that a substantial fraction of the disagreement in longwave cloud forcing in tropical convective regions is associated with the fact that the ERBE scene identification does not take into account variations in upper-tropospheric water vapor. On a global average basis, low clouds make the largest contribution to the net energy balance of the earth, because they cover such a large area and because their albedo effect dominates their effect on emitted thermal radiation. High, optically thick clouds can also very effectively reduce the energy balance, however, because their very high albedos overcome their low emission temperatures.