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Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Development and technical paper
05 Dec 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Geoscientific Model Development (GMD).
Optimizing UV index determination from broadband irradiances
Keith A. Tereszchuk1, Yves J. Rochon1, Chris A. McLinden1, and Paul A. Vaillancourt2 1Air Quality Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2Meteorological Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada
Abstract. Amidst mounting concerns about the depletion of stratospheric ozone (O3), and for subsequent increases in the surface irradiances of ultraviolet (UV) light and its effects on human health, a daily UV forecast program was launched by Environment Canada in 1993. The program serves to monitor harmful surface UV radiation and provide this information to the Canadian public through the UV index, a scale which reports the relative intensity of the Sun's UV radiation at the Earth's surface, and the corresponding protection actions to be taken. The UV index was accepted as a standard method of reporting surface UV irradiances by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and World Health Organization (WHO) in 1994.

A study was undertaken to improve upon the prognosticative capability of Environment and Climate Change Canada's (ECCC) UV index forecast model. An aspect of that work, and the topic of this communication, was to investigate the use of the four UV broadband surface irradiance fields generated by ECCC's Global Environmental Multi-scale (GEM) numerical prediction model to determine the UV index.

The basis of the investigation involves the creation of a suite of routines which employ high spectral resolution radiative transfer code developed to calculate UV index fields from GEM forecasts. These routines employ a modified version of the Cloud-J v7.4 radiative transfer model, which integrates GEM output to produce high spectral resolution surface irradiance fields. The output generated using the high-resolution radiative transfer code served to verify and calibrate GEM broadband surface irradiances under clear-sky conditions and their use in providing the UV index. A subsequent comparison of irradiances and UV index under cloudy conditions was also performed.

Linear correlation agreement of surface irradiances from the two models for each of the two higher UV bands covering 310–330 nm and 330–400 nm is typically greater than 95 % for clear-sky conditions with associated root mean square relative errors of 5.5 % and 3.8 %. On the other hand, underestimations of clear-sky GEM irradiances were found on the order of ~30–50 % for the 294–310 nm band and by a factor of ~30 for the 280–294 nm band. This underestimation can be significant for UV index determination but would not impact weather forecasting. Corresponding empirical adjustments were applied to the broadband irradiances now giving a correlation coefficient of unity. From these, a least-squares fitting was derived for the calculation of the UV index. The resultant differences in UV indices from the high spectral resolution irradiances and the resultant GEM broadband irradiances are typically within 0.2 with a root mean square relative error in the scatter of ~5.5 % for clear-sky conditions. Similar results are reproduced under cloudy conditions with light to moderate clouds, having a relative error comparable to the clear-sky counterpart; under strong attenuation due to clouds, a substantial increase in the root mean square relative error of up to 30 % is observed due to differing cloud radiative transfer models.

Citation: Tereszchuk, K. A., Rochon, Y. J., McLinden, C. A., and Vaillancourt, P. A.: Optimizing UV index determination from broadband irradiances, Geosci. Model Dev. Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Keith A. Tereszchuk et al.
Keith A. Tereszchuk et al.
Keith A. Tereszchuk et al.


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Short summary
To reduce computational costs, ECCC's new method to calculate the UV index involves scaling and weighting the irradiance contribution of four low-res UV broadbands currently produced by the GEM forecast model. A high-res irradiance spectrum was produced using CloudJ to create simulated GEM broadbands to calibrate the original GEM broadbands. The scaled GEM broadbands are then weighted accordingly so that the resultant UV index field emulates the high-res UV index field calculated from CloudJ.
To reduce computational costs, ECCC's new method to calculate the UV index involves scaling and...