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  • Author or Editor: Jochem Marotzke x
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Max Popp
,
Hauke Schmidt
, and
Jochem Marotzke

Abstract

A one-dimensional radiative–convective equilibrium model is used to investigate the influence of clouds on the onset of a runaway greenhouse under strong solar forcing. By comparing experiments with clear-sky conditions (clouds are transparent to radiation) to experiments with full-sky conditions (clouds are radiatively active), the authors find that the critical solar irradiance that is necessary to trigger a runaway greenhouse is increased from around 1.15–1.20 times the present-day total solar irradiance (TSI) on Earth S 0 for clear-sky conditions to around 1.40–1.45S 0 for full-sky conditions. Cloud thickness increases with TSI, leading to a substantially higher albedo, which in turn allows the climate to remain in equilibrium for markedly higher values of TSI. The results suggest that steady states with sea surface temperatures higher than 335 K exist for a large range of TSI. The thickening clouds in these states do not reduce the outgoing longwave radiation any more, implying that the thickening of clouds increases only their shortwave effect. This mechanism allows the column to remain in balance even at high sea surface temperatures. The authors find double equilibria for both clear-sky and full-sky conditions, but the range for which they occur extends to considerably higher values of TSIs for full-sky conditions. Moreover, when clouds are included in the radiative transfer calculations, climate instabilities are no longer caused by longwave effects but by the cloud albedo effect.

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Aiko Voigt
,
Isaac M. Held
, and
Jochem Marotzke

Abstract

The Hadley cell of a virtually dry snowball Earth atmosphere under equinox insolation is studied in a comprehensive atmospheric general circulation model. In contrast to the Hadley cell of modern Earth, momentum transport by dry convection, which is modeled as vertical diffusion of momentum, is important in the upper branch of the snowball Earth Hadley cell. In the zonal momentum balance, mean meridional advection of mean absolute vorticity is not only balanced by eddies but also by vertical diffusion of zonal momentum. Vertical diffusion also contributes to the meridional momentum balance by decelerating the Hadley cell through downgradient mixing of meridional momentum between its upper and lower branches. When vertical diffusion of momentum is suppressed in the upper branch, the Hadley cell strengthens by a factor of about 2. This is in line with the effect of vertical diffusion in the meridional momentum balance but in contrast with its effect in the zonal momentum balance. Neither axisymmetric Hadley cell theories based on angular momentum conservation nor eddy-permitting Hadley cell theories that neglect vertical diffusion of momentum are applicable to the snowball Earth Hadley cell. Because the snowball Earth Hadley cell is a particular realization of a dry Hadley cell, these results show that an appropriate description of dry Hadley cells should take into account vertical transport of momentum by dry convection.

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