Fasullo, J., and D.-Z. Sun, 2001: Radiative sensitivities to tropical water vapor under all-sky conditions. J. Climate, 14, 2798-2807.


Using the National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Climate Model, version 3, radiation transfer model and a realistic tropospheric environment including the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project cloud fields, all-sky radiative sensitivity to water vapor is assessed. The analysis improves upon previous clear-sky and model-based studies by using observed clouds, assessing realistic vertically varying perturbations, and considering spatial gradients in sensitivity through the Tropics and subtropics. The linearity of sensitivity is also explored. The dry zones of the subtropics and the eastern Pacific Ocean are found to be particularly sensitive to the water vapor distribution, especially for variations in the upper troposphere. The cloud field is instrumental in determining spatial gradients in sensitivity both at the top of the atmosphere and the surface. Throughout the Tropics, outgoing longwave radiation is most sensitive to water vapor in the upper troposphere, especially when perturbations characteristic of either natural variations or measurement uncertainties are considered. In contrast, surface radiative fluxes are everywhere most sensitive to specific humidity variations in the lower troposphere.