Evaluating the Effects of Clouds on Solar and Longwave Radiation From Moored Buoys in the North Pacific

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Sunday, 4 January 2015
Kelly A. Balmes, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA; and M. F. Cronin

Clouds play a critical role in the ocean surface radiation balance, along with the solar zenith angle and the atmospheric moisture and aerosol content. Two moored buoys in the North Pacific KEO (32.3N, 144.6E) and Papa (50N, 145W) - continuously measure solar and longwave radiation and other atmospheric and oceanic variables through two redundant systems. After identifying the primary system and constructing daily clearsky solar and longwave radiation values, the seasonal and regional clouds effects are quantified for the two locations. Situated south of the Kuroshio Extension, significant moisture content variability, associated with the Asian monsoon, affects solar and longwave radiation and cloud effects at KEO. Less seasonal variability is observed at buoy Papa located in the Gulf of Alaska. At KEO, the negative solar radiation cloud forcing outweigh the positive longwave radiation cloud forcing leading to ocean cooling, particularly in the summer. At Papa, the longwave radiation cloud forcing counteracts the solar cloud forcing during the winter, subsequently warming the ocean. The regional and seasonal variability of clouds represents a difficult aspect of climate modeling and an area for further research.