Decadal variability of clouds, solar radiation and temperature at a high-latitude coastal site in Norway

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Parding, Kajsa ; Olseth, Jan A. ; Dagestad, Knut F. ; Liepert, Beate G. (2014)
  • Publisher: Tellus B
  • Journal: Tellus B (issn: 1600-0889)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3402/tellusb.v66.25897
  • Subject: global dimming and brightening; atmospheric radiation; clouds; shortwave irradiance; aerosols;

The observed variability of shortwave (SW) irradiance, clouds and temperature and the potential connections between them is studied for the subarctic site Bergen (60.4°N, 5.3°E), located on the Norwegian west coast. Focusing on the quality and spatial representativity of the data, we compare observations from independent instruments and neighbouring measurement sites. The observations indicate that the decrease of sunshine duration and SW irradiance during the 1970s and 80s in Bergen is associated with the increasing frequency of clouds, in particular clouds of low base heights. We argue that the observed cloud changes are indicative of increased frequencies of storms in northern Europe. The annual mean observational time series show an increase in SW irradiance since 1990, which is not accompanied by a cloud cover (NN) decrease. This implies the influence of factors other than clouds, for example, decreasing aerosol emissions. Calculations of the aerosol optical depth (AOD) based on irradiance observations for hours when the sun is unobscured by clouds confirm a decreasing aerosol load after 1990, from 0.15 to 0.10 AOD which corresponds to 2–6 Wm−2 of brightening. At the same time, a seasonal analysis reveals opposite changes in SW irradiance and NN during the months of strongest changes – March, April and August – also during the recent period of increasing SW irradiance. We conclude that the seasonally decreasing NN also contributes to the recent changes in SW irradiance. Finally, we address the relationship between temperature, SW irradiance and clouds. In winter (December–February), the surface air temperature in Bergen is statistically linked to the warming influence of clouds. In all other seasons, the North Atlantic sea surface temperature variability has a more dominant influence on the air temperature in Bergen compared to local cloud and SW irradiance variability.Keywords: clouds, solar irradiance, global dimming and brightening(Published: 22 December 2014)Citation: Tellus B 2014, 66, 25897, http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/tellusb.v66.25897
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