Trends in Downwelling Longwave Radiance over the Southern Great Plains
Downwelling longwave radiation is an important part of the surface energy budget. Spectral trends in the downwelling longwave radiance (DLR) provide insight into the radiative drivers of climate change. In this research, we process and analyze a 23-year DLR record measured by the Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometers (AERI) at the Atmospheric Radiation Program Southern Great Plains (SGP) site. Two AERIs were deployed at SGP with an overlapping observation period of about 10 years, which allows us to examine the consistency and accuracy of the measurements and to account for discrepancies between them due to errors associated with the instruments themselves. We then analyzed the all-sky radiance trends in DLR, which are associated with the surface warming trend at SGP during this same period and also the complex changes in meteorological conditions. For instance, the observed radiance in the CO2 absorption band follows closely the near-surface air temperature variations. The significant positive radiance trends in weak absorption channels, such as in the wings of the CO2 band and in the weak absorption channels in the H2O vibration-rotational band, show earlier detectability of climate change. The magnitude of the radiance trend uncertainty in the DLR record mainly results from internal climate variability rather than from measurement error, which highlights the importance of continuing the DLR spectral measurements to unambiguously detect and attribute climate change.