Inderscience Publishers

Investigation of the characteristics of the reflectivity of clouds

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This paper investigates some of the reflectivity characteristics that clouds (when modelled as solid bodies) must exhibit to be compatible with observations that the reflecting surface of a cloud (i) appears almost equally bright across its face, (ii) is brightest when the cloud is opposite to the Sun but decreases in brightness as the cloud moves to other positions and (iii) increases in brightness with increasing optical thickness of the cloud in the observer's line of sight. These observations, respectively, are shown to imply that the peak value of the bidirectional total reflectivity from a cloud surface (i) increases in inverse proportion to the cosine of the angle between the Sun and the normal to the cloud surface, as the incident angle increases, (ii) appears to be directed back in the direction of the incident radiation, and (iii) increases as optical thickness of the cloud in the observer's line of sight increases. The results could have application in many fields (e.g. modelling diffuse radiance distributions for cloudy skies).

Keywords: clouds, reflectivity, sky-radiance distribution, solar energy, solar radiation

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