GFDL - Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

Ice Clouds in the SKYHI General Circulation Model

Ice clouds play important roles in both the shortwave and longwave energy balance of the earth-atmosphere system. They reflect solar radiation and, by virtue of the heights at which they generally form, trap radiation emitted by the earth. A simple representation of the processes which form and remove atmospheric ice has been incorporated in the SKYHI general circulation model.

This figure illustrates SKYHI’s average ice-water path for January-March. The ice-water path is related (though not uniquely) to radiative properties of ice clouds, such as the visible optical depth. Visible optical depth can be retrieved from satellites and compared with the results from SKYHI.

This figure illustrates visible optical depths for cirrus clouds retrieved from satellite radiance measurements by the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Program for January-March (analyzed by Brian Soden). Note that SKYHI ice patterns generally resemble the patterns of satellite optical depth.