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Simulating sunshine on cloudy days

  • 26 September, 2023
  • 13:30
  • Wageningen University, Meteorology and Air Quality
  • C.C. van Heerwaardenprof.dr. J. Vila-Guerau De Arellano

In this thesis, we study the complex interactions between radiation, clouds, and surface processes. Because radiative transfer computations are very time-consuming, we first explore two different methods of accelerating radiative transfer parametrizations without significant loss of accuracy: 1) using machine learning to predict optical properties and 2) reducing the spectral resolution. We then use high-resolution atmospheric models, which explicitly resolve the most energetic turbulent eddies, to study how the realism of the radiative transfer computations affects the simulated evolution of shallow cumulus clouds over land. We find that simulations that fully account for the three-dimensional nature of radiative transfer, produce fewer but larger and thicker clouds than simulations that consider only the vertical direction of radiation propagation. Last, we use the solar irradiance record in spring 2020 as an example to show that variations in cloud occurrence, driven by large-scale weather patterns, are the main contributor to solar irradiance variability on inter-annual time-scales.


Menno Veerman

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