On the ability of RegCM4 regional climate model to simulate surface solar radiation patterns over Europe: an assessment using satellite-based observations
Abstract. In this work, we assess the ability of RegCM4 regional climate model to simulate surface solar radiation (SSR) patterns over Europe. A decadal RegCM4 run (2000–2009) was implemented and evaluated against satellite-based observations from the Satellite Application Facility on Climate Monitoring (CM SAF), showing that the model simulates adequately the SSR patterns over the region. The SSR bias between RegCM4 and CM SAF is +1.5 % for MFG (Meteosat First Generation) and +3.3 % for MSG (Meteosat Second Generation) observations. The relative contribution of parameters that determine the transmission of solar radiation within the atmosphere to the deviation appearing between RegCM4 and CM SAF SSR is also examined. Cloud macrophysical and microphysical properties such as cloud fractional cover (CFC), cloud optical thickness (COT) and cloud effective radius (Re) from RegCM4 are evaluated against data from CM SAF. Generally, RegCM4 underestimates CFC by 24.3 % and Re for liquid/ice clouds by 36.1 %/28.3 % and overestimates COT by 4.3 %. The same procedure is repeated for aerosol optical properties such as aerosol optical depth (AOD), asymmetry factor (ASY) and single-scattering albedo (SSA), as well as other parameters, including surface broadband albedo (ALB) and water vapor amount (WV), using data from MACv1 aerosol climatology, from CERES satellite sensors and from ERA-Interim reanalysis. It is shown here that the good agreement between RegCM4 and satellite-based SSR observations can be partially attributed to counteracting effects among the above mentioned parameters. The potential contribution of each parameter to the RegCM4–CM SAF SSR deviations is estimated with the combined use of the aforementioned data and a radiative transfer model (SBDART). CFC, COT and AOD are the major determinants of these deviations on a monthly basis; however, the other parameters also play an important role for specific regions and seasons. Overall, for the European domain, CFC, COT and AOD are the most important factors, since their underestimations and overestimations by RegCM4 cause an annual RegCM4–CM SAF SSR absolute deviation of 8.4, 3.8 and 4.5 %, respectively.
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