• mineral dust aerosol;
  • climate models;
  • Satellite data;
  • radiative processes


Satellite data are used to quantify and examine the bias in the outgoing long-wave (LW) radiation over North Africa during May–July simulated by a range of climate models and the Met Office global numerical weather prediction (NWP) model. Simulations from an ensemble-mean of multiple climate models overestimate outgoing clear-sky long-wave radiation (LWc) by more than 20 W m−2 relative to observations from Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) for May–July 2000 over parts of the west Sahara, and by 9 W m−2 for the North Africa region (20°W–30°E, 10–40°N). Experiments with the atmosphere-only version of the High-resolution Hadley Centre Global Environment Model (HiGEM), suggest that including mineral dust radiative effects removes this bias. Furthermore, only by reducing surface temperature and emissivity by unrealistic amounts is it possible to explain the magnitude of the bias.

Comparing simulations from the Met Office NWP model with satellite observations from Geostationary Earth Radiation Budget (GERB) instruments suggests that the model overestimates the LW by 20–40 W m−2 during North African summer. The bias declines over the period 2003–2008, although this is likely to relate to improvements in the model and inhomogeneity in the satellite time series. The bias in LWc coincides with high aerosol dust loading estimated from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI), including during the GERBILS field campaign (18–28 June 2007) where model overestimates in LWc greater than 20 W m−2 and OMI-estimated aerosol optical depth (AOD) greater than 0.8 are concurrent around 20°N, 0–20°W. A model-minus-GERB LW bias of around 30 W m−2 coincides with high AOD during the period 18–21 June 2007, although differences in cloud cover also impact the model–GERB differences. Copyright © Royal Meteorological Society and Crown Copyright, 2010