Characteristics of cloud radiation forcing over East China

Wei Chyung Wang*, Wei Gong, Wen Shung Kau, Cheng Ta Chen, Huang Hsiung Hsu, Chia Hsiu Tu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Observations indicate that the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) exhibits distinctive characteristics of large cloud amounts with associated heavy and persistent rainfall, although short breaks for clear sky usually occur. Consequently, the effects of cloud-radiation interactions can play an important role in the general circulation of the atmosphere and, thus, the evolution of the EASM. In this note, as a first step toward studying the topic, the 5-yr (January 1985-December 1989) Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) dataset is used to show the spatial and temporal patterns of both shortwave (SW) and longwave (LW) cloud radiative forcing (CRF) at the top of the atmosphere over east China, and to compare the observed features with Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project-II (AMIP-II) simulations with the University at Albany. State University of New York (SUNYA) Community Climate Model 3 (CCM3) and the ECHAM4 general circulation models. The observations indicate that the net CRF provides a cooling effect to the atmosphere-surface climate system, dominated by the SW CRF cooling (albedo effect) with partial compensation from the LW CRF warming (greenhouse effect). The SW CRF shows a strong seasonal cycle, and its peak magnitude is particularly large, ∼110 W m-2, for south China and the Yangtze-Huai River valley (YHRV) during May and June, while the LW CRF is about 50 W m-2 for the same months with a weak dependence on the latitudes and seasons. These characteristics are in sharp contrast to the Northern Hemispheric zonal means of the same latitude bands and seasons, thus implying a unique role for cloud-radiation interaction in east China. Both model simulations show similar observed characteristics, although biases exist. For example, in May, the ECHAM4 underestimates the SW CRF while the SUNYA CCM3 simulates a significantly larger value, both attributed to the respective biases in the simulated total cloud cover. Model-to-observation comparisons of the association between total cloud cover and SW CRF, and between high cloud cover and LW CRF, are also presented and their differences are discussed. Finally, the SUNYA CCM3 biases in the CRF and its relevance to the model cloud biases are discussed in the context of model cold and dry biases in climate simulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-853
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Feb 15
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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