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Clouds are integral to the climate system. They are a crucial component of the global water cycle,
 

Summary: 1
Clouds are integral to the climate system.
They are a crucial component of the global water cycle,
vital to humans and to ecosystems which depend upon
fresh water.
They are important signals of the atmospheric circulation
that aid our ability to predict the weather.
Clouds are also crucial for climate and climate change. In
addition to their powerful role in the hydrological cycle,
they strongly interact with the Earth's radiative energy
balance. They cool the surface by shading it from the
direct solar beam but almost as strongly enhance the
greenhouse effect of the atmosphere by reducing the
efficiency by which the surface can cool to space through
thermal emission.
Their formation processes and radiative properties are
complex and thus predicting how they will respond and
influence climate change is an extremely difficult
challenge.
2

  

Source: Allan, Richard P. - Department of Meteorology, University of Reading

 

Collections: Geosciences