Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 9, 5751-5758, 2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
12 Aug 2009
A simple model for cloud radiative forcing
T. Corti and T. Peter Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland
Abstract. We present a simple model for the longwave and shortwave cloud radiative forcing based on the evaluation of extensive radiative transfer calculations, covering a global range of conditions. The simplicity of the model equations fosters the understanding on how clouds affect the Earth's energy balance. In comparison with results from a comprehensive radiative transfer model, the accuracy of our parameterization is typically better than 20%. We demonstrate the usefulness of our model using the example of tropical cirrus clouds. We conclude that possible applications for the model include the convenient estimate of cloud radiative forcing for a wide range of conditions, the evaluation of the sensitivity to changes in environmental conditions, and as a tool in education. An online version of the model is available at

Citation: Corti, T. and Peter, T.: A simple model for cloud radiative forcing, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 9, 5751-5758,, 2009.
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