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Ruiyue Chen, Fu-Lung Chang, Zhanqing Li, Ralph Ferraro, and Fuzhong Weng

1. Introduction It has long been recognized that clouds play a dominant role in the earth’s climate and its changes. Clouds strongly affect the energy balance and water cycle, two dominant processes in the climate system. Low-level boundary layer clouds have the most significant influence on cloud radiative forcing because of their areal extent and frequency ( Harrison et al. 1990 ; Hartmann et al. 1992 ). Radiation absorbed by boundary layer clouds also plays an important role in the

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Graeme L. Stephens and Christian D. Kummerow

1. Introduction The clouds of Earth are fundamental to most aspects of human life. Through production of precipitation, they are essential for delivering and sustaining the supplies of freshwater upon which human life depends. Clouds further exert a principal influence on the planet’s energy balance. It is in clouds that latent heat is released through the process of condensation and the formation of precipitation. This form of heat is elementary to the development and evolution of the planet

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Arthur Y. Hou and Sara Q. Zhang

in the earth’s energy balance. Roughly, an error of 1 mm day −1 in surface rain rate is equivalent to 30 W m −2 of latent heat flux in the energy budget. Currently, discrepancies in monthly mean rain rates between global analyses and Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) satellite gauge estimates can exceed 4 mm day −1 at the horizontal resolution of 100 km, which correspond to over 120 W m −2 , representing a substantial uncertainty in the surface energy balance. The aim of this

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Ronald M. Errico, Peter Bauer, and Jean-François Mahfouf

measures, and interpretations should be deliberately examined. Some of the issues concern problems that are already considered somewhat solved, such as dynamical balance of large-scale flows and general predictability. Since the context of assimilating clouds and precipitation is notably different, however, even these “solved” problems likely require revisiting. The condensation of water, for example, is most sensitive to characteristics of the analysis fields that are distinct from those that

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