Articles | Volume 11, issue 11
Research article
14 Jun 2011
Research article |  | 14 Jun 2011

Ultraviolet actinic flux in clear and cloudy atmospheres: model calculations and aircraft-based measurements

G. G. Palancar, R. E. Shetter, S. R. Hall, B. M. Toselli, and S. Madronich

Abstract. Ultraviolet (UV) actinic fluxes measured with two Scanning Actinic Flux Spectroradiometers (SAFS) aboard the NASA DC-8 aircraft are compared with the Tropospheric Ultraviolet-Visible (TUV) model. The observations from 17 days in July-August 2004 (INTEX-NA field campaign) span a wide range of latitudes (28° N–53° N), longitudes (45° W–140° W), altitudes (0.1–11.9 km), ozone columns (285–353 DU), and solar zenith angles (2°–85°). Both cloudy and cloud-free conditions were encountered. For cloud-free conditions, the ratio of observed to clear-sky-model actinic flux (integrated from 298 to 422 nm) was 1.01±0.04, i.e. in good agreement with observations. The agreement improved to 1.00±0.03 for the down-welling component under clear sky conditions. In the presence of clouds and depending on their position relative to the aircraft, the up-welling component was frequently enhanced (by as much as a factor of 8 relative to cloud-free values) while the down-welling component showed both reductions and enhancements of up to a few tens of percent. Including all conditions, the ratio of the observed actinic flux to the cloud-free model value was 1.1±0.3 for the total, or separately 1.0±0.2 for the down-welling and 1.5±0.8 for the up-welling components. The correlations between up-welling and down-welling deviations are well reproduced with sensitivity studies using the TUV model, and are understood qualitatively with a simple conceptual model. This analysis of actinic flux observations illustrates opportunities for future evaluations of photolysis rates in three-dimensional chemistry-transport models.

Final-revised paper