Monday, November 28, 2011

Less Reflection

With 350 W/m2 arriving from the Sun, 75% of the surface covered by water, clouds sinking at 300 mm/s, and each 3 mm of cloud reflecting 63% of sunlight, our CC9 simulation converges upon a surface air temperature of −12°C. When we increase the Sun's power to 400 W/m2, the temperature rises by a mere 0.5°C. Our simulated planet is kept cold by thick clouds that reflect the Sun's light back into space. Ice crystals drift down from the sky in some places, while elsewhere water evaporates from the frozen seas.

The surface of the Earth is at an average temperature well above the freezing point of water, and the Earth's sky is frequently clear of clouds. Our simulated sky never clears, and the surface is frozen. It never rains in our simulation, nor do our simulated clouds emit or absorb radiation. Perhaps these two omissions are responsible for our permanent clouds and frozen seas. Before we attempt to rectify them, however, let us consider the effect of decreasing the reflecting power of our simulated clouds.

We increased Lc_water from 3.0 mm to 6.0 mm, so that it now takes 6.0 mm of cloud water to reflect 63% of the Sun's light. With the reflecting power divided in half, we ran our simulation for eight thousand hours from the starting point CS_0hr. You will find the final state in LR_8000hr.

Compared to before, we now have more clouds in the sky. The following graph shows how cloud depth and surface air temperature vary with time.

Compared to before, we see the atmosphere reaches equilibrium in on third the time. The new temperature is higher and the cloud cover is thicker. The following table compares the state of the atmosphere for both types of clouds.

Our seas are now at −3°C. If they contain salt, they will not freeze. The air a few meters above our sandy island will be just below freezing. Our simulated world is still much colder than the Earth, and nobody standing on the island would ever see the Sun. We are, however, gratified to find that our simulation remains stable with such a large drop in cloud reflectance.

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