AER research 3rd most cited article in JGR history

Dr. Eli Mlawer
January 10, 2013

One of the most important ways that scientists communicate the results of their research is through papers published in professional journals. One of the more influential journals in atmospheric science is the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres (JGR), published by the American Geophysical Union. Over its many decades of operation, JGR has published some of the most cited and authoritative research papers in the field and, consequently, has an extremely high ranking in the ISI Journal Citation Reports ©.

JGR recently released a list of the papers it has published that have been cited the most by other research papers. I was pleased to learn that one of my papers is the third most-cited JGR paper in their history. “Radiative transfer for inhomogeneous atmospheres: RRTM, a validated correlated-k model for the longwave,” published in 1997, describes a computer code we developed at AER called RRTM, that calculates the greenhouse effect (i.e. infrared radiation) in the earth’s atmosphere. AER Senior Scientist Mike Iacono is a co-author on the paper, as is retired AER Principal Scientist Tony Clough, who is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and a consultant to AER.

Accurate predictions of climate and weather require precise calculations of the infrared radiation absorbed and emitted by the gases in the atmosphere. However, full calculations of these effects, which are intrinsically complex, are too slow to be used in climate and weather prediction models. The computer code RRTM that is described in our 1997 paper provided an important advance in the field of rapid radiative transfer modeling -- its calculations of the greenhouse effect have similar accuracy as the corresponding full calculations, but the code’s impressive computational speed allows it to be used in multi-decadal climate simulations. For this reason, RRTM has been incorporated into many models used to predict climate and weather, including one of the premier climate models in the United States, the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Community Earth System Model (CESM), and the much-used Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF). Many of the citations of our 1997 paper are from journal articles that utilize RRTM as part of these and other prediction models.

The Radiation and Climate group at AER continues to enhance the capabilities of RRTM. We currently have NASA funding to modify RRTM so that it can run on a Graphical Processing Unit (GPU), thereby allowing a significant increase in computational speed over the original version, as well as another grant to improve the version of RRTM that computes the impact of the atmosphere on solar radiation to better account for the cyclical variability of the radiation emitted by the sun.