On the Use of Cloud Forcing to Estimate Cloud Feedback

Brian J. Soden National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

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Anthony J. Broccoli Department of Environmental Sciences, Rutgers–The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey

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Richard S. Hemler National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, New Jersey

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Abstract

Uncertainty in cloud feedback is the leading cause of discrepancy in model predictions of climate change. The use of observed or model-simulated radiative fluxes to diagnose the effect of clouds on climate sensitivity requires an accurate understanding of the distinction between a change in cloud radiative forcing and a cloud feedback. This study compares simulations from different versions of the GFDL Atmospheric Model 2 (AM2) that have widely varying strengths of cloud feedback to illustrate the differences between the two and highlight the potential for changes in cloud radiative forcing to be misinterpreted.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Brian J. Soden, National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, P.O. Box 308, Princeton, NJ 08542. Email: brian.soden@noaa.gov

Abstract

Uncertainty in cloud feedback is the leading cause of discrepancy in model predictions of climate change. The use of observed or model-simulated radiative fluxes to diagnose the effect of clouds on climate sensitivity requires an accurate understanding of the distinction between a change in cloud radiative forcing and a cloud feedback. This study compares simulations from different versions of the GFDL Atmospheric Model 2 (AM2) that have widely varying strengths of cloud feedback to illustrate the differences between the two and highlight the potential for changes in cloud radiative forcing to be misinterpreted.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Brian J. Soden, National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, P.O. Box 308, Princeton, NJ 08542. Email: brian.soden@noaa.gov

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