On the compensation between cloud feedback and cloud adjustment in climate...

Chung, E., and B. Soden (2017), On the compensation between cloud feedback and cloud adjustment in climate models, Clim. Dyn., 50, 1267-1276, doi:10.1007/s00382-017-3682-1).

Intermodel compensation between cloud feedback and rapid cloud adjustment has important implications for the range of model-inferred climate sensitivity. Although this negative intermodel correlation exists in both realistic (e.g., coupled ocean–atmosphere models) and idealized (e.g., aqua-planet) model configurations, the compensation appears to be stronger in the latter. The cause of the compensation between feedback and adjustment, and its dependence on model configuration remain poorly understood. In this study, we examine the characteristics of the cloud feedback and adjustment in model simulations with differing complexity, and analyze the causes responsible for their compensation. We show that in all model configurations, the intermodel compensation between cloud feedback and cloud adjustment largely results from offsetting changes in marine boundary-layer clouds. The greater prevalence of these cloud types in aqua-planet models is a likely contributor to the larger correlation between feedback and adjustment in those configurations. It is also shown that differing circulation changes in the aqua-planet configuration of some models act to amplify the intermodel range and sensitivity of the cloud radiative response by about a factor of 2.

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Research Program: 
Radiation Science Program (RSP)