Cloud Optics as a Possible Stabilizing Factor in Climate Change

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  • 1 CIMAS, University of Miami, Miami, FL 33149
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Abstract

Calculations made with a one-dimensional radiative-convective climate model show that the optical properties of clouds in solar wavelengths can be a stabilizing factor in climate change. Cloud reflectivity and absorption have been calculated as functions of cloud liquid water content using the parameterization of Liou and Wittman (1979). With the assumption that cloud liquid water content increases (decreases) as temperature and absolute humidity increase (decrease) during a climate perturbation, cloud reflectivity increases (decreases), damping the original perturbation by a few tens of percent. This probably should be regarded as an upper limit on the amount of negative feedback which changes in solar wavelength cloud optical properties (for fixed cloud area) can provide in a global climate model.

Abstract

Calculations made with a one-dimensional radiative-convective climate model show that the optical properties of clouds in solar wavelengths can be a stabilizing factor in climate change. Cloud reflectivity and absorption have been calculated as functions of cloud liquid water content using the parameterization of Liou and Wittman (1979). With the assumption that cloud liquid water content increases (decreases) as temperature and absolute humidity increase (decrease) during a climate perturbation, cloud reflectivity increases (decreases), damping the original perturbation by a few tens of percent. This probably should be regarded as an upper limit on the amount of negative feedback which changes in solar wavelength cloud optical properties (for fixed cloud area) can provide in a global climate model.

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