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Several efforts are currently underway to improve cloud-radiation parameterizations in Global Climate Models (GCMs) by incorporating statistical properties of the cloud field. Although some radiation parameterizations, which are already computationally costly, now incorporate subgrid scale variability in cloud properties, they are not yet capable of using this information in their calculations of the 3-D radiation fields. Before drastic changes are made to such algorithms to incorporate cloud-cloud radiation interactions, the impact of including realistic high-resolution cloud distributions on the shortwave fluxes should be assessed. This letter provides a framework for carrying out such assessments, including a new methodology that blends a stochastic radiative transfer model, high-resolution cloud fields from a mesoscale meteorological model, and a threshold and object identification technique applied to cloud water content fields. This process provides a link between the radiative fluxes calculated in GCMs, where clouds occur at a subgrid scale, and the highly resolved cloud fields in a regional climate model, which can provide cloud field statistics. Two case studies are described herein.
Date of Publication: April 2009