The surface radiation budget over South America in a set of regional climate models from the CLARIS-LPB project
The performance of seven regional climate models in simulating the radiation and heat fluxes at the surface over South America (SA) is evaluated. Sources of uncertainty and errors are identified. All simulations have been performed in the context of the CLARIS-LPB Project for the period 1990-2008 and are compared with the GEWEX-SRB, CRU, and GLDAS2 dataset and NCEP-NOAA reanalysis. Results showed that most of the models overestimate the net surface short-wave radiation over tropical SA and La Plata Basin and underestimate it over oceanic regions. Errors in the short-wave radiation are mainly associated with uncertainties in the representation of surface albedo and cloud fraction. For the net surface long-wave radiation, model biases are diverse. However, the ensemble mean showed a good agreement with the GEWEX-SRB dataset due to the compensation of individual model biases. Errors in the net surface long-wave radiation can be explained, in a large proportion, by errors in cloud fraction. For some particular models, errors in temperature also contribute to errors in the net long-wave radiation. Analysis of the annual cycle of each component of the energy budget indicates that the RCMs reproduce generally well the main characteristics of the short- and long-wave radiations in terms of timing and amplitude. However, a large spread among models over tropical SA is apparent. The annual cycle of the sensible heat flux showed a strong overestimation in comparison with the reanalysis and GLDAS2 dataset. For the latent heat flux, strong differences between the reanalysis and GLDAS2 are calculated particularly over tropical SA.