Publications

Export 110 results:
Sort by: Author Title Type [ Year  (Desc)]
2011
Berque, J, Lubin D, Somerville RCJ.  2011.  Transect method for Antarctic cloud property retrieval using AVHRR data. International Journal of Remote Sensing. 32:2887-2903.   10.1080/01431161003745624   AbstractWebsite

For studies of Antarctic climate change, the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) offers a time series spanning more than two decades, with numerous overpasses per day from converging polar orbits, and with radiometrically calibrated thermal infrared channels. However, over the Antarctic Plateau, standard multispectral application of AVHRR data for cloud optical property retrieval with individual pixels is problematic due to poor scene contrasts and measurement uncertainties. We present a method that takes advantage of rapid changes in radiances at well-defined cloud boundaries. We examine a transect of AVHRR-measured radiances in the three thermal infrared channels across a boundary between cloudy and cloud-free parts of the image. Using scatter diagrams, made from the data along this transect, of the brightness temperature differences between channels 3 and 4, and channels 4 and 5, it is possible to fit families of radiative transfer solutions to the data to estimate cloud effective temperature, thermodynamic phase, and effective particle radius. The major approximation with this method is that along such a transect, cloud water path has considerable spatial variability, while effective radius, phase, and cloud temperature have much less variability. To illustrate this method, two AVHRR images centred about the South Pole are analysed. The two images are chosen based on their differing contrasts in brightness temperature between clear and cloud-filled pixels, to demonstrate that our method can work with varying cloud top heights. In one image the data are consistent with radiative transfer simulations using ice cloud. In the other, the data are inconsistent with ice cloud and are well simulated with supercooled liquid water cloud at 241.5 K. This method therefore has potential for climatological investigation of the radiatively important phase transition in the extremely cold and pristine Antarctic environment.

2010
Bowman, TE, Maibach E, Mann ME, Somerville RCJ, Seltser BJ, Fischhoff B, Gardiner SM, Gould RJ, Leiserowitz A, Yohe G.  2010.  Time to Take Action on Climate Communication. Science. 330:1044-1044.   10.1126/science.330.6007.1044   AbstractWebsite
n/a
2009
Pritchard, MS, Somerville RCJ.  2009.  Empirical orthogonal function analysis of the diurnal cycle of precipitation in a multi-scale climate model. Geophysical Research Letters. 36   10.1029/2008gl036964   AbstractWebsite

Long-term variability in the hydrologic cycle is poorly simulated by current generation global climate models (GCMs), partly due to known climatological biases at shorter timescales. We demonstrate that a prototype Multi-scale Modeling Framework (MMF) provides a superior representation of the spatial and temporal structure of precipitation at diurnal timescales than a GCM. Results from empirical orthogonal function (EOF) decomposition of the boreal summer climatological composite diurnal cycle of precipitation in an MMF are compared to a GCM and satellite data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission. The eigenspectrum, principal component time series, and the spatial structure of leading EOFs in an eigenmode decomposition of the MMF composite day are a much better match to observations than the GCM. Regional deficiencies in the MMF diurnal cycle are manifest as localized anomalies in the spatial structures of the first two leading EOFs. Citation: Pritchard, M. S., and R. C. J. Somerville (2009), Empirical orthogonal function analysis of the diurnal cycle of precipitation in a multi-scale climate model, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L05812, doi: 10.1029/2008GL036964.

Bowman, TE, Maibach E, Mann ME, Moser SC, Somerville RCJ.  2009.  Creating a Common Climate Language. Science. 324:36-37.   10.1126/science.324.5923.36b   AbstractWebsite
n/a
Pritchard, MS, Somerville RCJ.  2009.  Assessing the Diurnal Cycle of Precipitation in a Multi-Scale Climate Model. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems. 1   10.3894/james.2009.1.12   AbstractWebsite

A promising result that has emerged from the new Multi-scale Modeling Framework (MMF) approach to atmospheric modeling is a global improvement in the daily timing of peak precipitation over the continents, which is suggestive of improved moist dynamics at diurnal timescales overall. We scrutinize the simulated seasonal composite diurnal cycle of precipitation in an MMF developed by the Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (CMMAP) using a comprehensive suite of diurnal cycle diagnostics including traditional harmonic analysis, and non-traditional diagnostics such as the broadness of the peak precipitation in the mean summer day, reduced dimension transect analysis, and animations of the full spatial and temporal variability of the composite mean summer day. Precipitation in the MMF is evaluated against multi-satellite merged satellite data and a control simulation with a climate model that employs conventional cloud and boundary layer parameterizations. Our analysis highlights several improved features of the diurnal cycle of precipitation in the multi-scale climate model: It is less sinusoidal over the most energetic diurnal rainfall regimes, more horizontally inhomogeneous within continents and oceans, and more faithful to observed structural transitions in the composite diurnal cycle chronology straddling coastlines than the conventional climate model. A regional focus on North America links a seasonal summer dry bias over the continental United States in the CMMAP MMF at T42 resolution to its inability to capture diurnally propagating precipitation signals associated with organized convection in the lee of the Rockies. The chronology of precipitation events elsewhere in the vicinity of North America is improved in the MMF, especially over sea breeze circulation regions along the eastern seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as over the entirety of the Gulf Stream. Comparison of the convective heating and moistening suggests that improvements in the MMF coastal ocean diurnal rainfall may be a result of a local moist dynamical response to the improved representation of energetic diurnal forcing over adjacent land.

Allison, I, Bindoff NL, Bindschadler RA, Cox PM, de Noblet N, England MH, Francis JE, Gruber N, Haywood AM, Karoly DJ, Kaser G, Quéré LC, Lenton TM, Mann ME, McNeil BI, Pitman AJ, Rahmstorf S, Rignot E, Schellnhuber HJ, Schneider SH, Sherwood SC, Somerville RCJ, K.Steffen, Steig EJ, Visbeck M, Weaver AJ.  2009.  The Copenhagen Diagnosis, 2009: Updating the world on the Latest Climate Science. :60. Abstract
n/a
2008
Somerville, RCJ.  2008.  If I were president: A climate change speech. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 89:1180-1182. Abstract
n/a
Somerville, R.  2008.  The Forgiving Air : Understanding Environmental Change, Second Edition. :202p.., Boston, Mass.: American Meteorological Society Abstract
n/a
Jouzel, J, Somerville RCJ.  2008.  The global consensus and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Facing climate change together. ( Gautier C, Fellous JL, Eds.).:12-29., Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press Abstract

"This volume brings together scientists from the US and Europe to review the state-of-the-art in climate change science; all of them have extensive experience with climate research and international collaboration. scientific jargon has been minimized for readers from different backgrounds.""This book is written for scientists and students in a wide range of fields, such as atmospheric science, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, geology, and socioeconomics, who are not necessarily specialists in climatology, but are seeking an accessible and broad review of climate change issues."--BOOK JACKET.

2007
Rahmstorf, S, Cazenave A, Church JA, Hansen JE, Keeling RF, Parker DE, Somerville RCJ.  2007.  Recent climate observations compared to projections. Science. 316:709-709.   10.1126/science.1136843   AbstractWebsite

We present recent observed climate trends for carbon dioxide concentration, global mean air temperature, and global sea level, and we compare these trends to previous model projections as summarized in the 2001 assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC scenarios and projections start in the year 1990, which is also the base year of the Kyoto protocol, in which almost all industrialized nations accepted a binding commitment to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The data available for the period since 1990 raise concerns that the climate system, in particular sea level, may be responding more quickly to climate change than our current generation of models indicates.

Shell, KM, Somerville RCJ.  2007.  Direct radiative effect of mineral dust and volcanic aerosols in a simple aerosol climate model. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 112   10.1029/2006jd007197   AbstractWebsite

Airborne mineral dust can influence the climate by altering the radiative properties of the atmosphere, but the magnitude of the effect is uncertain. An idealized global model is developed to study the dust-climate system. The model determines the dust longwave and shortwave direct radiative forcing, as well as the resulting temperature changes, based on the specified dust distribution, height, and optical properties. Comparisons with observations and general circulation results indicate that the model produces realistic results for the present-day dust distribution as well as for volcanic aerosols. Although the model includes many simplifications, it can still provide insight into dust-climate system behavior. Recent observations suggest that dust may absorb less solar radiation than previously thought. Experiments with the model suggest that previous studies which used more absorbing dust may be underestimating the effect of dust. Increasing the solar single scattering albedo value from 0.85 to 0.97, corresponding to recent measurements, more than doubles the modeled global average top-of-the-atmosphere (TOA) shortwave direct forcing for the present-day dust distribution, while the surface shortwave forcing is halved. The corresponding temperature decreases are larger for the larger single scattering albedo, and the latent and sensible heat fluxes decreases are smaller. The dust forcing and climate response are approximately linear with respect to optical depth. However, the relationship depends on the relative magnitudes of shortwave versus longwave TOA forcing. Thus the net TOA forcing alone does not determine the steady state climate response.

Shell, KM, Somerville RCJ.  2007.  Sensitivity of climate forcing and response to dust optical properties in an idealized model. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 112   10.1029/2006jd007198   AbstractWebsite

An idealized global climate model is used to explore the response of the climate to a wide range of dust radiative properties and dust layer heights. The top-of-the-atmosphere (TOA) shortwave forcing becomes more negative as the broadband shortwave single scattering albedo increases and the broadband shortwave asymmetry parameter decreases, but the sensitivity is highly dependent on the location of the dust layer with respect to clouds. The longwave TOA forcing is most affected by the height of the dust layer. The net TOA forcing is most sensitive to the shortwave single scattering albedo and shortwave asymmetry parameter. The surface and atmospheric temperature responses are approximately linear with respect to the TOA forcing, as opposed to the surface or atmospheric forcings. Thus the TOA forcing can be used to estimate both the surface and atmospheric temperature responses to dust. The corresponding changes in latent and sensible heat fluxes are essential for the close relationship of the surface temperature response to the TOA forcing. Estimating the hydrological cycle response requires knowledge of the vertical distribution of dust with respect to clouds or other reflective particles. The sensitivity of the latent heat flux to variations in the shortwave single scattering albedo changes sign with dust height. The latent heat flux change becomes less negative as the shortwave single scattering albedo increases if the dust layer is below clouds. However, when the dust is above clouds, the latent heat response becomes more negative as the single scattering albedo increases.

Le Treut, H, Somerville RCJ, Cubasch U, Ding Y, Mauritzen C, Mokssit A, Peterson T, Prather M.  2007.  Historical Overview of Climate Change. Climate change 2007 : the physical science basis : contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. ( Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt K, Tignor M, Miller H, Eds.)., Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press Abstract
n/a
Somerville, RCJ, Jouzel J.  2007.  Le groupe intergouvernemental d'experts sur l'evolution du climat: le consensus a l'échelle planétaire. Comprendre le changement climatique. ( André JC, Fellous JL, Gautier C, Eds.).:27-44., Paris: O. Jacob Abstract
n/a
IPCC.  2007.  Summary for Policymakers. Climate change 2007 : the physical science basis : contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. ( Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt K, Tignor M, Miller H, Eds.)., Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press Abstract
n/a
Solomon, S, Qin D, Manning M, Alley RB, Berntsen TK, Bindoff N, Chen Z, Chidthaisong A, Gregory JM, Hegeri GC, Heimann M, Hewitson B, Hoskins BJ, Joos F, Jouzel J, Kattsov V, Lohmann U, Matsuno T, Molina M, Nicholls N, Overpeck JT, Raga G, Ramaswamy V, Ren J, Rusticucci M, Somerville RCJ, Stocker TF, Whetton P, Wood RA, Wratt D.  2007.  Technical Summary. Climate change 2007 : the physical science basis : contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. ( Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt K, Tignor M, Miller H, Eds.)., Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press Abstract
n/a
2006
Iacobellis, SF, Somerville RCJ.  2006.  Evaluating parameterizations of the autoconversion process using a single-column model and Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program measurements. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 111   10.1029/2005jd006296   AbstractWebsite

A single-column model is used to evaluate the performance of two types of autoconversion parameterizations. The model results are compared to data collected at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program's Southern U. S. Great Plains site. The model is run over a period covering 2 years (2000-2001), and the results are analyzed for time periods varying from hourly to seasonal. During a relatively short 27-hour period during March 2000 characterized primarily by shallow frontal clouds, modeled values of cloud liquid water were better simulated using a Manton-Cotton-type autoconversion parameterization. However, over longer timescales representing a multitude of different cloud types and meteorological conditions, a Sundqvist-type parameterization produced better results. Analysis of the model results indicates that the Manton-Cotton-type parameterization does better during periods when shallow clouds are present without any overlying clouds, while the Sundqvist-type parameterization is preferred during periods when high and low clouds coexist. A possible explanation is that precipitation from high clouds may not be represented well by the SCM, thus affecting the precipitation formation rates in any lower clouds. Sensitivity tests using the Manton-Cotton parameterization indicate that the autoconversion rate is sensitive to the specification of the cloud droplet number concentration (N-c). The single-column model, as well as many general circulation models, specify N-c as a constant value. However, limited in situ measurements suggest that N-c varies significantly in time. The mean modeled top-of-atmosphere cloud radiative forcing during the 2-year period 2000-2001 differed by 3 W m(-2) as the cloud droplet concentration was varied between minimum and maximum values suggested by the in situ measurements. These results imply that model-produced hydrological cycle and cloud-radiation interactions could be better modeled using an accurate time-dependent measure of the cloud droplet concentration.

2005
Xie, SC, Zhang MH, Branson M, Cederwall RT, Delgenio AD, Eitzen ZA, Ghan SJ, Iacobellis SF, Johnson KL, Khairoutdinov M, Klein SA, Krueger SK, Lin WY, Lohmann U, Miller MA, Randall DA, Somerville RCJ, Sud YC, Walker GK, Wolf A, Wu XQ, Xu KM, Yio JJ, Zhang G, Zhang JH.  2005.  Simulations of midlatitude frontal clouds by single-column and cloud-resolving models during the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement March 2000 cloud intensive operational period. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 110   10.1029/2004jd005119   AbstractWebsite

[1] This study quantitatively evaluates the overall performance of nine single-column models (SCMs) and four cloud-resolving models (CRMs) in simulating a strong midlatitude frontal cloud system taken from the spring 2000 Cloud Intensive Observational Period at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement ( ARM) Southern Great Plains site. The evaluation data are an analysis product of constrained variational analysis of the ARM observations and the cloud data collected from the ARM ground active remote sensors (i.e., cloud radar, lidar, and laser ceilometers) and satellite retrievals. Both the selected SCMs and CRMs can typically capture the bulk characteristics of the frontal system and the frontal precipitation. However, there are significant differences in detailed structures of the frontal clouds. Both CRMs and SCMs overestimate high thin cirrus clouds before the main frontal passage. During the passage of a front with strong upward motion, CRMs underestimate middle and low clouds while SCMs overestimate clouds at the levels above 765 hPa. All CRMs and some SCMs also underestimated the middle clouds after the frontal passage. There are also large differences in the model simulations of cloud condensates owing to differences in parameterizations; however, the differences among intercompared models are smaller in the CRMs than the SCMs. In general, the CRM-simulated cloud water and ice are comparable with observations, while most SCMs underestimated cloud water. SCMs show huge biases varying from large overestimates to equally large underestimates of cloud ice. Many of these model biases could be traced to the lack of subgrid-scale dynamical structure in the applied forcing fields and the lack of organized mesoscale hydrometeor advections. Other potential reasons for these model errors are also discussed in the paper.

Shell, KM, Somerville RCJ.  2005.  A generalized energy balance climate model with parameterized dynamics and diabatic heating. Journal of Climate. 18:1753-1772.   10.1175/jcli3373.1   AbstractWebsite

Energy balance models have proven useful in understanding mechanisms and feedbacks in the climate system. An original global energy balance model is presented here. The model is solved numerically for equilibrium climate states defined by zonal average temperature as a function of latitude for both a surface and an atmospheric layer. The effects of radiative, latent, and sensible heating are parameterized. The model includes a variable lapse rate and parameterizations of the major dynamical mechanisms responsible for meridional heat transport: the Hadley cell, midlatitude baroclinic eddies, and ocean circulation. The model reproduces both the mean variation of temperature with latitude and the global average heat budget within the uncertainty of observations. The utility of the model is demonstrated through examination of various climate feedbacks. One important feedback is the effect of the lapse rate on climate. When the planet warms as a result of an increase in the solar constant, the lapse rate acts as a negative feedback, effectively enhancing the longwave emission efficiency of the atmosphere. The lapse rate is also responsible for an increase in global average temperature when the meridional heat transport effectiveness is increased. The water vapor feedback enhances temperature changes, while the latent and sensible heating feedback reduces surface temperature changes.

Xu, KM, Zhang MH, Eitzen MA, Ghan SJ, Klein SA, Wu XQ, Xie SC, Branson M, Delgenio AD, Iacobellis SF, Khairoutdinov M, Lin WY, Lohmann U, Randall DA, Somerville RCJ, Sud YC, Walker GK, Wolf A, Yio JJ, Zhang JH.  2005.  Modeling springtime shallow frontal clouds with cloud-resolving and single-column models. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 110   10.1029/2004jd005153   AbstractWebsite

This modeling study compares the performance of eight single-column models (SCMs) and four cloud-resolving models (CRMs) in simulating shallow frontal cloud systems observed during a short period of the March 2000 Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) intensive operational period. Except for the passage of a cold front at the beginning of this period, frontal cloud systems are under the influence of an upper tropospheric ridge and are driven by a persistent frontogenesis over the Southern Great Plains and moisture transport from the northwestern part of the Gulf of Mexico. This study emphasizes quantitative comparisons among the model simulations and with the ARM data, focusing on a 27-hour period when only shallow frontal clouds were observed. All CRMs and SCMs simulate clouds in the observed shallow cloud layer. Most SCMs also produce clouds in the middle and upper troposphere, while none of the CRMs produce any clouds there. One possible cause for this is the decoupling between cloud condensate and cloud fraction in nearly all SCM parameterizations. Another possible cause is the weak upper tropospheric subsidence that has been averaged over both descending and ascending regions. Significantly different cloud amounts and cloud microphysical properties are found in the model simulations. All CRMs and most SCMs underestimate shallow clouds in the lowest 125 hPa near the surface, but most SCMs overestimate the cloud amount above this layer. These results are related to the detailed formulations of cloud microphysical processes and fractional cloud parameterizations in the SCMs, and possibly to the dynamical framework and two-dimensional configuration of the CRMs. Although two of the CRMs with anelastic dynamical frameworks simulate the shallow frontal clouds much better than the SCMs, the CRMs do not necessarily perform much better than the SCMs for the entire period when deep and shallow frontal clouds are present.

2004
Lane-Veron, DE, Somerville RCJ.  2004.  Stochastic theory of radiative transfer through generalized cloud fields. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. 109   10.1029/2004jd004524   AbstractWebsite

[1] We present a coherent treatment, based on linear kinetic theory, of stochastic radiative transfer in an atmosphere containing clouds. A brief summary of statistical cloud radiation models is included. We explore the sensitivities inherent in the stochastic approach by using a well-known plane-parallel model developed by Fouquart and Bonnel together with our own stochastic model which generalizes earlier work of F. Malvagi, R. N. Byrne, G. C. Pomraning, and R. C. J. Somerville. In overcast conditions, in comparison to the plane parallel model, the stochastic model underestimates transmittance at small optical depths (< 7) and overestimates transmittance at large optical depths. The stochastic model is strongly sensitive to cloud optical properties, including cloud water content and cloud droplet effective radius. The extension of the stochastic approach to an atmospheric general circulation model parameterization appears to be most appropriate for cloud fraction ranging from 25 to 70%. We conclude that stochastic theory holds substantial promise as a modeling approach for calculating shortwave radiative transfer through partially cloudy fields. Unlike cloud-resolving models and Monte Carlo cloud models, stochastic cloud models do not depend on specific realizations of the cloud field. Instead, they calculate the transfer of radiation through a cloudy atmosphere whose properties are known statistically in the form of probability density functions characterizing cloud geometry and cloud optical properties. The advantage of the stochastic approach is its theoretical generality and its potential for representing a complex cloud field realistically at modest computational cost.

Berque, J, Lubin D, Somerville RCJ.  2004.  Infrared radiative properties of the Antarctic plateau from AVHRR data. Part I: Effect of the snow surface. Journal of Applied Meteorology. 43:350-362.   10.1175/1520-0450(2004)043<0350:irpota>2.0.co;2   AbstractWebsite

The effective scene temperature, or "brightness temperature," measured in channel 3 (3.5-3.9 m m) of the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) is shown to be sensitive, in principle, to the effective particle size of snow grains on the Antarctic plateau, over the range of snow grain sizes reported in field studies. In conjunction with a discrete ordinate method radiative transfer model that couples the polar atmosphere with a scattering and absorbing snowpack, the thermal infrared channels of the AVHRR instrument can, therefore, be used to estimate effective grain size at the snow surface over Antarctica. This is subject to uncertainties related to the modeled top-of-atmosphere bidirectional reflectance distribution function resulting from the possible presence of sastrugi and to lack of complete knowledge of snow crystal shapes and habits as they influence the scattering phase function. However, when applied to NOAA-11 and NOAA-12 AVHRR data from 1992, the snow grain effective radii of order 50 mum are retrieved, consistent with field observations, with no apparent discontinuity between two spacecraft having different viewing geometries. Retrieved snow grain effective radii are 10-20-mum larger when the snow grains are modeled as hexagonal solid columns rather than as spheres with a Henyey-Greenstein phase function. Despite the above-mentioned uncertainties, the retrievals are consistent enough that one should be able to monitor climatically significant changes in surface snow grain size due to major precipitation events. It is also shown that a realistic representation of the surface snow grain size is critical when retrieving the optical depth and effective particle radius of clouds for the optically thin clouds most frequently encountered over the Antarctic plateau.

2003
Iacobellis, SF, McFarquhar GM, Mitchell DL, Somerville RCJ.  2003.  The sensitivity of radiative fluxes to parameterized cloud microphysics. Journal of Climate. 16:2979-2996.   10.1175/1520-0442(2003)016<2979:tsorft>2.0.co;2   AbstractWebsite

The sensitivity of modeled radiative fluxes to the specification of cloud microphysical parameterizations of effective radius and fallout are investigated using a single-column model and measurements from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program. The single-column model was run with data for the 3-month period of June - August 2000 at the ARM Southern Great Plains site forced with operational numerical weather prediction data. Several different packages of cloud microphysical parameterizations were used in the single-column model. The temporal evolution of modeled cloud amount as well as surface radiative fluxes from a control run compare well with ARM measurements. Mean ice particle fall speeds varied significantly with respect to the assumed ice particle habit. As particle fall speeds increased, the overall cloud fraction, cloud height, and grid-averaged ice water path decreased. The outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) differs by up to 4 W m(-2) over the range of fall speeds examined, while shortwave fluxes varied little as most of the changes in cloud properties occurred at times of minimal solar radiation. Model results indicate that surface and top-of-atmosphere radiative fluxes are sensitive to the scheme used to specify the ice particle effective radius. On the seasonal timescale this sensitivity is on the order of 4 W m(-2) and on the daily timescale can be as large as 32 W m(-2). A conclusive statement as to which microphysical scheme is performing best is not achievable until cloud microphysical measurements include an accurate representation of small ice particles. The modeled variance of the ice particle effective radius at any given height in the model is considerably smaller than that suggested by measurements. Model results indicate that this underestimation of the ice particle effective radius variance can alter the seasonal mean top-of-atmosphere radiative fluxes by up to 5 W m(-2) and the mean longwave cooling rate by up to 0.2degrees K day(-1) near the location of maximum cloud amount. These seemingly modest flux sensitivities may have important implications for numerical climate simulations. These numerical experiments and observational comparisons have provided valuable physical insight into ice cloud - radiation physics and also into the mechanisms through which contemporary cloud microphysical parameterizations interact with climate model radiation schemes. In particular, the results demonstrate the importance of the smaller ice particles and emphasize the critical role played by not only the average particle size and shape but also the width of the ice particle effective radius distribution about its mean. In fact, the results show that this variability in particle size can sometimes play a greater role in cloud - radiation interactions than the more obvious variations in cloud amount due to changes in ice particle fall speed.