A Path-Tracing Monte Carlo Library for 3-D Radiative Transfer in Highly Resolved Cloudy Atmospheres

Villefranque, Najda ; Fournier, Richard ; Couvreux, Fleur ; Blanco, Stéphane ; Cornet, Céline ; Eymet, Vincent ; Forest, Vincent ; Tregan, Jean-Marc

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<p align=justify>Interactions between clouds and radiation are at the root of many difficulties in numerically predicting future weather and climate and in retrieving the state of the atmosphere from remote sensing observations. The broad range of issues related to these interactions, and to three-dimensional interactions in particular, has motivated the development of accurate radiative tools able to compute all types of radiative metrics, from monochromatic, local, and directional observables to integrated energetic quantities. Building on this community effort, we present here an open-source library for general use in Monte Carlo algorithms. This library is devoted to the acceleration of ray tracing in complex data, typically high-resolution large-domain grounds and clouds. The main algorithmic advances embedded in the library are related to the construction and traversal of hierarchical grids accelerating the tracing of paths through heterogeneous fields in null-collision (maximum cross-section) algorithms. We show that with these hierarchical grids, the computing time is only weakly sensitive to the refinement of the volumetric data. The library is tested with a rendering algorithm that produces synthetic images of cloud radiances. Other examples of implementation are provided to demonstrate potential uses of the library in the context of 3-D radiation studies and parameterization development, evaluation, and tuning.</p>
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