Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Settled science update: Climate models make 'very large' errors in determining solar radiation at Earth's surface, 'ignore the effect of clouds'

A paper published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research finds that current global climate models make "very large" errors in determining solar radiation at the surface of the Earth "due to ignoring the effects of clouds." According to the authors, these very large errors can exceed 800 Watts per meter squared, which by comparison is about 216 times more than the alleged effect of doubling CO2 concentrations [3.7 W m-2].

Key Points
  • Introduce a new fast scheme for determining solar radiation at surface
  • Scheme has solid physical basis
  • Produces more accurate results than most early studies
Zhian Sun
Jingmiao Liu
Xianning Zeng
Hong Liang
Radiation calculaions in global numerical weather prediction (NWP) and climate models are usually performed in 3-hourly time intervals in order to reduce the computational cost. This treatment can lead to an incorrect Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI) at the Earth's surface, which could be one of the error sources in modelled convection and precipitation. In order to improve the simulation of the diurnal cycle of GHI at the surface a fast scheme has been developed in this study and it can be used to determine the GHI at the Earth's surface more frequently with affordable costs. The scheme is divided into components for clear-sky and cloudy-sky conditions. The clear-sky component has been described in part I. The cloudy-sky component is introduced in this paper. The scheme has been tested using observations obtained from three Atmospheric Radiation Measurements (ARM) stations established by the U. S. Department of Energy. The results show that a half hourly mean relative error of GHI under all-sky conditions is less than 7\%. An important application of the scheme is in global climate models. The radiation sampling error due to infrequent radiation calculations is investigated using the this scheme and ARM observations. It is found that these errors are very large, exceeding 800 W m-2 at many non-radiation time steps due to ignoring the effects of clouds. Use of the current scheme can reduce these errors to less than 50 W m-2


  1. The idiotic spending on useless green energy hasn't slowed much ... what does mean to that?

    There is so much invested in proceeding with the fraud of the millennium that it will be nearly impossible to stop the hemorrhaging of our tax dollars to fund the insanity.

    Articles like this serve to make us 'deniers' even more cynical.

  2. Dr. Pielke comments on this paper: