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Open AccessArticle

The Role of the Effective Cloud Albedo for Climate Monitoring and Analysis

Deutscher Wetterdienst, Frankfurter Str. 135, D-60387 Offenbach, Germany
MeteoSwiss, Krähbühlstr. 58, CH-8044 Zürich, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2011, 3(11), 2305-2320;
Received: 24 August 2011 / Revised: 13 October 2011 / Accepted: 13 October 2011 / Published: 25 October 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing in Climate Monitoring and Analysis)
Cloud properties and the Earth’s radiation budget are defined as essential climate variables by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). The cloud albedo is a measure for the portion of solar radiation reflected back to space by clouds. This information is essential for the analysis and interpretation of the Earth’s radiation budget and the solar surface irradiance. We present and discuss a method for the production of the effective cloud albedo and the solar surface irradiance based on the visible channel (0.45–1 μm) on-board of the Meteosat satellites. This method includes a newly developed self-calibration approach and has been used to generate a 23-year long (1983–2005) continuous and validated climate data record of the effective cloud albedo and the solar surface irradiance. Using this climate data record we demonstrate the ability of the method to generate the two essential climate variables in high accuracy and homogeneity. Further on, we discuss the role of the cloud albedo within climate monitoring and analysis. We found trends with opposite sign in the observed effective cloud albedo resulting in positive trends in the solar surface irradiance over ocean and partly negative trends over land. Ground measurements are scarce over the ocean and thus satellite-derived effective cloud albedo and solar surface irradiance constitutes a unique observational data source. Within this scope it has to be considered that the ocean is the main energy reservoir of the Earth, which emphasises the role of satellite-observed effective cloud albedo and derived solar surface irradiance as essential climate variables for climate monitoring and analysis. View Full-Text
Keywords: cloud albedo; solar irradiance; Earth radiation budget; climate cloud albedo; solar irradiance; Earth radiation budget; climate
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Mueller, R.; Trentmann, J.; Träger-Chatterjee, C.; Posselt, R.; Stöckli, R. The Role of the Effective Cloud Albedo for Climate Monitoring and Analysis. Remote Sens. 2011, 3, 2305-2320.

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