The Impact of Global Warming on Marine Boundary Layer Clouds over the Eastern Pacific-A Regional Model Study

Axel Lauer, Kevin Hamilton, Yuqing Wang, Vaughan Phillips, Ralf Bennartz

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskriftPeer review


Cloud simulations and cloud-climate feedbacks in the tropical and subtropical eastern Pacific region in 16 state-of-the-art coupled global climate models (GCMs) and in the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) Regional Atmospheric Model (iRAM) are examined. The authors find that the simulation of the present-day mean cloud climatology for this region in the GCMs is very poor and that the cloud-climate feedbacks vary widely among the GCMs. By contrast, iRAM simulates mean clouds and interannual cloud variations that are quite similar to those observed in this region. The model also simulates well the observed relationship between lower-tropospheric stability (LTS) and low-level cloud amount. To investigate cloud-climate feedbacks in iRAM, several global warming scenarios were run with boundary conditions appropriate for late twenty-first-century conditions. All the global warming cases simulated with iRAM show a distinct reduction in low-level cloud amount, particularly in the stratocumulus regime, resulting in positive local feedback parameters in these regions in the range of 4-7 W m(-2) K-1. Domain-averaged (30 degrees S-30 degrees N, 150 degrees-60 degrees W) feedback parameters from iRAM range between +1.8 and +1.9 W m(-2) K-1. At most locations both the LTS and cloud amount are altered in the global warming cases, but the changes in these variables do not follow the empirical relationship found in the present-day experiments. The cloud-climate feedback averaged over the same east Pacific region was also calculated from the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) A1B simulations for each of the 16 GCMs with results that varied from -1.0 to +1.3 W m(-2) K-1, all less than the values obtained in the comparable iRAM simulations. The iRAM results by themselves cannot be connected definitively to global climate feedbacks; however, among the global GCMs the cloud feedback in the full tropical-subtropical zone is correlated strongly with the east Pacific cloud feedback, and the cloud feedback largely determines the global climate sensitivity. The present iRAM results for cloud feedbacks in the east Pacific provide some support for the high end of current estimates of global climate sensitivity.
Sidor (från-till)5844-5863
TidskriftJournal of Climate
StatusPublished - 2010
Externt publiceradJa

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