Short-wave and long-wave radiative properties of Saharan dust aerosol

S.R. Osborne, A.J. Baran, B.T. Johnson, J.M. Haywood, Evelyn Hesse, S. Newman

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The radiative properties of mineral dust aerosol during the GERB Intercomparison of Long-wave and Short-wave (GERBILS) are presented. GERBILS consisted of aircraft flights over land areas between Mauritania and Niger during June 2007. During one case of large aerosol optical depth (AOD=1.0 at 0.55μm), a short-wave spectrometer measured sky radiances versus scattering angle that are compared to modelled data. The modelling used phase functions of spheres, spheroids and irregular-shaped particles using T-matrix and ray-tracing methods. Irregular particles provided the most satisfactory solution. In another case of full short-wave and long-wave radiative closure, measurements and modelled clear sky conditions allowed calculation of the direct radiative effect (DRE) at high and low level. The modelled AOD (0.92) required to simulate the measured spectral irradiances agrees with the aircraft AOD (0.79) within measurement uncertainty. The simulated irradiances are less sensitive to particle shape than radiances. However, it is shown through modelling of the surface and top-of-atmosphere (TOA) DRE over all daylight hours that significant differences exist at TOA due to variation in the asymmetry parameter. The TOA short-wave diurnally averaged DRE was modelled as between 0 and -20 W m-2 depending on particle shape. A long-wave interferometer measured downwelling and upwelling radiances to derive surface emissivity across the window region. Measured nadir brightness temperatures from high level show signature of dust. A drop in brightness temperature of 14K was determined using modelled pristine-sky spectra. The modelled outgoing long-wave DRE due to dust from this case was +14 W m-2 averaged over 24 h, or +17 W m-2 per unit AOD. Modelling studies illustrate the sensitivity to aerosol refractive index and size distribution for both short-wave and long-wave DREs. Considering the full spectrum, a refractive index dataset from the literature has been selected that best represents the Saharan dust encountered during GERBILS. the Met Office.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1149-1167
JournalQuarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society
Issue number658
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • aircraft measurements
  • brightness temperature
  • direct radiative effect
  • non-spherical particles
  • phase function
  • sky radiance


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