The Continual Intercomparison of Radiation Codes: Results from Phase I

Author: Eli J. Mlawer, Jennifer S. Delamere and Michael J. Iacono
Journal Article
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Oreopoulos, L., E.J. Mlawer, J.S. Delamere, T. Shippert, J. Cole, B. Fomin, M.J. Iacono, Z. Jin, J. Li, J. Manners, P. Raisanen, F.G. Rose, Y.-C. Zhang, M.J. Wilson, and W.B. Rossow, 2012. The Continual Intercomparison of Radiation Codes: Results from Phase I. Journal of Geophysical Research, 117, D06117, doi:10.1029/2011JD016821.

Abstract: [1] We present results from Phase I of the Continual Intercomparison of Radiation Codes (CIRC), intended as an evolving and regularly updated reference source for evaluation of radiative transfer (RT) codes used in global climate models and other atmospheric applications. CIRC differs from previous intercomparisons in that it relies on an observationally validated catalog of cases. The seven CIRC Phase I baseline cases, five cloud free and two with overcast liquid clouds, are built around observations by the Atmospheric Radiation Measurements program that satisfy the goals of Phase I, namely, to examine RT model performance in realistic, yet not overly complex, atmospheric conditions. Besides the seven baseline cases, additional idealized “subcases” are also employed to facilitate interpretation of model errors. In addition to quantifying individual model performance with respect to reference line-by-line calculations, we also highlight RT code behavior for conditions of doubled CO2, issues arising from spectral specification of surface albedo, and the impact of cloud scattering in the thermal infrared. Our analysis suggests that improvements in the calculation of diffuse shortwave flux, shortwave absorption, and shortwave CO2 forcing as well as in the treatment of spectral surface albedo should be considered for many RT codes. On the other hand, longwave calculations are generally in agreement with the reference results. By expanding the range of conditions under which participating codes are tested, future CIRC phases will hopefully allow even more rigorous examination of RT codes.