A fast-forward radiative transfer (RTF) model is presented that includes cloud-radiation interaction for any number of cloud layers. Layer cloud fraction and transmittance are treated separately and combined with that of gaseous transmittances. RTF is tested against a reference procedure that uses line-by-line gaseous transmittances and solves the radiative transfer equation by use of the adding-doubling method to handle multiple-scattering conditions properly. The comparison is carried out for channels 8, 12, and 14 of the High Resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder (HIRS/2) and for the geostationary satellite METEOSAT thermal infrared and water vapor channels. Fairly large differences in simulated radiances by the two schemes are found in clear conditions for upper- and mid-tropospheric channels; the cause of the differences is discussed. For cloudy situations an improved layer source function is shown to be required when rapid changes in atmospheric transmission are experienced within the model layers. The roles of scattering processes are discussed; results with and without scattering, both obtained by use of a reference code, are compared. Overall, the presented results show that the fast model is capable of reproducing the cloudy results of the much more complex and time-consuming reference scheme.
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