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Title: Observational evidence against strongly stabilizing tropical cloud feedbacks

Abstract

In this paper, we present a method to attribute cloud radiative feedbacks to convective processes, using subcloud layer buoyancy as a diagnostic of stable and deep convective regimes. Applying this approach to tropical remote sensing measurements over years 2000–2016 shows that an inferred negative short-term cloud feedback from deep convection was nearly offset by a positive cloud feedback from stable regimes. The net cloud feedback was within statistical uncertainty of the National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Atmosphere Model (CAM5) with historical forcings, with discrepancies in the partitioning of the cloud feedback into convective regimes. Compensation between high-cloud responses to tropics-wide warming in stable and unstable regimes resulted in smaller net changes in high-cloud fraction with warming. In addition, deep convection and associated high clouds set in at warmer temperatures in response to warming, as a consequence of nearly invariant subcloud buoyancy. Lastly, this invariance further constrained the magnitude of cloud radiative feedbacks and is consistent with climate model projections.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2]
  1. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States). Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Division
  2. Univ. of Oxford (United Kingdom). Department of Physics
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
OSTI Identifier:
1476461
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC02-05CH11231
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Geophysical Research Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 44; Journal Issue: 3; Related Information: Published 2017. This article is a US Government work and is in the public domain in the United States of America.; Journal ID: ISSN 0094-8276
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
58 GEOSCIENCES; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; tropical; cloud; feedback; deep convection; remote sensing; tropical circulation

Citation Formats

Williams, Ian N., and Pierrehumbert, Raymond T.. Observational evidence against strongly stabilizing tropical cloud feedbacks. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1002/2016GL072202.
Williams, Ian N., & Pierrehumbert, Raymond T.. Observational evidence against strongly stabilizing tropical cloud feedbacks. United States. doi:10.1002/2016GL072202.
Williams, Ian N., and Pierrehumbert, Raymond T.. Thu . "Observational evidence against strongly stabilizing tropical cloud feedbacks". United States. doi:10.1002/2016GL072202. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1476461.
@article{osti_1476461,
title = {Observational evidence against strongly stabilizing tropical cloud feedbacks},
author = {Williams, Ian N. and Pierrehumbert, Raymond T.},
abstractNote = {In this paper, we present a method to attribute cloud radiative feedbacks to convective processes, using subcloud layer buoyancy as a diagnostic of stable and deep convective regimes. Applying this approach to tropical remote sensing measurements over years 2000–2016 shows that an inferred negative short-term cloud feedback from deep convection was nearly offset by a positive cloud feedback from stable regimes. The net cloud feedback was within statistical uncertainty of the National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Atmosphere Model (CAM5) with historical forcings, with discrepancies in the partitioning of the cloud feedback into convective regimes. Compensation between high-cloud responses to tropics-wide warming in stable and unstable regimes resulted in smaller net changes in high-cloud fraction with warming. In addition, deep convection and associated high clouds set in at warmer temperatures in response to warming, as a consequence of nearly invariant subcloud buoyancy. Lastly, this invariance further constrained the magnitude of cloud radiative feedbacks and is consistent with climate model projections.},
doi = {10.1002/2016GL072202},
journal = {Geophysical Research Letters},
issn = {0094-8276},
number = 3,
volume = 44,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {1}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
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Cited by: 1 work
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