Peter Kuipers Munneke

NEW PAPER! Estimating Larsen C SMB

Using a lot of field data from several measurement campaigns between 2008 and 2015, we reconstruct spatial patterns of surface mass balance over the Larsen C ice shelf. We assimilate RACMO2 SMB to the available observations to show that SMB is highly variable: from 200 mm w.e. per year in the northeast to over 700 mm w.e. in the southwestern inlets.

Updated Greenland mass loss

Using the mass budget method, our new study in The Cryosphere shows that mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet has been 12 ± 6 mm since 1991, making it a major contributor to global mean sea level rise.

About me

I am a postdoctoral researcher in the field of glaciology and polar meteorology at the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht (IMAU), part of Utrecht University, The Netherlands.

Radiative transfer


In the past few years, I have been developing a model that calculates radiative transfer of solar radiation through the atmosphere, clouds and snow. I started out with the monochromatic DAK model (Doubling-Adding KNMI) [1,2,3], and adapted it for broadband calculations using the correlated-k technique.


The doubling-adding technique can be subdivided into two parts. "Doubling" starts with a very small atmospheric layer, which is assumed to have single-scattering properties only, the properties of which can be derived analytically. An identical layer is then added, and the optical properties of the combined layer are calculated including internal scattering. This doubling procedure is repeated until the layer has reached the desired thickness. In this way, multiple scattering of light is taken into account.

The "adding" procedure is very similar to the doubling mechanism, but is designed to combine two layers with different optical properties instead. Two layers are combined to a single one, and this combined layer is added to a third layer, etc. This process is repeated until the radiative fluxes at the boundaries of all model layers are known.


In order to perform calculations for the entire shortwave spectrum (300-3,000 nm), one should do line-by-line calculations which include absorption by the main atmospheric gases. This is necessary because absorptive spectra of e.g. water vapour are highly irregular and strongly dependent on temperature and pressure. These line-by-line runs over the entire spectrum are very time-consuming however, and typically require 10,000+ calculations.

The correlated-k technique has been developed [4] to significantly reduce computation time for numerical broadband calculations. The idea is to put absorption lines within a certain wavelength interval in order of absorption strength rather than of wavelength. The absorption spectra then become smooth curves which can be evaluated using only typically 5 to 15 calculations for a wavelength interval. The entire shortwave spectrum is subdivided into 32 bands [5], requiring a total of 150 - 300 radiative transfer calculations.

Clouds and snow

In calculations on radiative transfer, clouds and snow are treated in a similar way. They are regarded as particulate media, the scattering properties of which are described by scattering phase functions (SPF). Clouds can consist of (im)perfect hexagonal ice crystals (ice clouds), or of spherical water droplets (liquid water clouds). An expansion of the SPFs in Legendre polynomials and in generalized spherical functions is calculated using a ray-tracing programme [6]. Optical properties of the cloud and snow layers are extracted from the expansion coefficients in DAK.

The broadband version of DAK has been subject to a thorough validation study by post-doc researcher Dr. Ping Wang at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI). The model was validated against the radiative transfer model SMARTS and solar radiation measurements from Cabauw, The Netherlands.


These are listed on my publications page.


1. De Haan, J.F., P.B. Bosma and J.W. Hovenier. 1987. The adding method for multiple scattering calculations of polarized light. Astron. Astrophys. 183, 371-391.

2. Stammes, P., J.F. de Haan and J.W. Hovenier. 1989. The polarized internal radiation field of a planetary atmosphere. Astron. Astrophys. 225, 239-259.

3. Van de Hulst, H.C. 1963. A new look at multiple scattering. Tech. Rep., Inst. Space Studies, NASA, New York.

4. Lacis, A.A. and V. Oinas. 1991. A description of the correlated k distribution method for modeling nongray gaseous absorption, thermal emission, and multiple scattering in vertically inhomogeneous atmospheres. J. Geophys. Res., 96(D5), 9,027-9,063.

5. Kato, S., T.P. Ackerman, J.H. Mather and E.E. Clothiaux. 1999. The k-distribution method and correlated-k approximation for a shortwave radiative transfer model. J. Quant. Spectrosc. Radiat. Transfer, 62, 109-121.

6. Hess, M., R.B.A. Koelemeijer and P. Stammes. 1998. Scattering matrices of imperfect hexagonal ice crystals. J. Quant. Spectrosc. Radiat. Transfer, 60, 301-308.