Articles | Volume 11, issue 16
Research article
24 Aug 2011
Research article |  | 24 Aug 2011

The effect of optically thin cirrus clouds on solar radiation in Camagüey, Cuba

B. Barja and J. C. Antuña

Abstract. The effect of optically thin cirrus clouds on solar radiation is analyzed by numerical simulation, using lidar measurements of cirrus conducted at Camagüey, Cuba. Sign and amplitude of the cirrus clouds effect on solar radiation is evaluated. There is a relation between the solar zenith angle and solar cirrus cloud radiative forcing (SCRF) present in the diurnal cycle of the SCRF. Maximums of SCRF out of noon located at the cirrus cloud base height are found for the thin and opaque cirrus clouds. The cirrus clouds optical depth (COD) threshold for having double SCRF maximum out of noon instead of a single one at noon was 0.083. In contrast, the heating rate shows a maximum at noon in the location of cirrus clouds maximum extinction values. Cirrus clouds have a cooling effect in the solar spectrum at the Top of the Atmosphere (TOA) and at the surface (SFC). The daily mean value of SCRF has an average value of −9.1 W m−2 at TOA and −5.6 W m−2 at SFC. The cirrus clouds also have a local heating effect on the atmospheric layer where they are located. Cirrus clouds have mean daily values of heating rates of 0.63 K day−1 with a range between 0.35 K day−1 and 1.24 K day−1. The principal effect is in the near-infrared spectral band of the solar spectrum. There is a linear relation between SCRF and COD, with −30 W m−2 COD−1 and −26 W m−2 COD−1, values for the slopes of the fits at the TOA and SFC, respectively, in the broadband solar spectrum.

Final-revised paper