Spatial variability of the sea-ice radiation budget and its effect on aggregate-area fluxes
Abstract:The spatial and temporal variability of surface, cloud and radiative properties of sea ice are examined using new satellite-derived products. Downwelling short- and longwave fluxes exhibit temporal correlation over about 180 days, but cloud optical depth and cloud fraction show almost no correlation over time. The spatial variance of surface properties is shown to increase much less rapidly than that of cloud properties. The effect of small-scale inhomogeneity in surface and cloud properties on the calculation of radiative fluxes at ice- and climate-model gridscales is also investigated. Annual mean differences between gridcell fluxes computed from average surface and cloud properties and averages of pixel-by-pixel fluxes are 9.46% for the downwelling shortwave flux and −7.04% for the longwave flux. Therefore, using mean surface and cloud properties to compute surface radiative fluxes in a gridcell results in an over-estimate of the shortwave flux and an underestimate of the longwave flux. Model sensitivity studies show that such biases may result in substantial errors in modeled ice thickness. Clearly, the sub-gridscale inhomogeneity of surface and atmospheric properties must be considered when estimating aggregate-area fluxes in sea-ice and climate models.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2001
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