Evaluation and optimization of sampling errors for the Monte Carlo Independent Column Approximation



The Monte Carlo Independent Column Approximation (McICA) method for computing domain-average broadband radiative fluxes is unbiased with respect to the full ICA, but its flux estimates contain conditional random noise. McICA's sampling errors are evaluated here using a global climate model (GCM) dataset and a correlated-k distribution (CKD) radiation scheme. Two approaches to reduce McICA's sampling variance are discussed. The first is to simply restrict all of McICA's samples to cloudy regions. This avoids wasting precious few samples on essentially homogeneous clear skies. Clear-sky fluxes need to be computed separately for this approach, but this is usually done in GCMs for diagnostic purposes anyway. Second, accuracy can be improved by repeated sampling, and averaging those CKD terms with large cloud radiative effects. Although this naturally increases computational costs over the standard CKD model, random errors for fluxes and heating rates are reduced by typically 50% to 60%, for the present radiation code, when the total number of samples is increased by 50%. When both variance reduction techniques are applied simultaneously, globally averaged flux and heating rate random errors are reduced by a factor of ∼3. Copyright © 2004 Royal Meteorological Society