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Publication Date
22 January 2024

Evaluating Cloud Feedback Components in Observations and Their Representation in Climate Models



This study quantifies the contribution of individual cloud feedbacks to the total short‐term cloud feedback in satellite observations over the period 2002–2014 and evaluates how they are represented in climate models. The observed positive total cloud feedback is primarily due to positive high‐cloud altitude, extratropical high‐ and low‐cloud optical depth, and land cloud amount feedbacks partially offset by negative tropical marine low‐cloud feedback. Seventeen models from the Atmosphere Model Intercomparison Project of the sixth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project are analyzed. The models generally reproduce the observed moderate positive short‐term cloud feedback. However, compared to satellite estimates, the models are systematically high‐biased in tropical marine low‐cloud and land cloud amount feedbacks and systematically low‐biased in high‐cloud altitude and extratropical high‐ and low‐cloud optical depth feedbacks. Errors in modeled short‐term cloud feedback components identified in this analysis highlight the need for improvements in model simulations of the response of high clouds and tropical marine low clouds. Our results suggest that skill in simulating interannual cloud feedback components may not indicate skill in simulating long‐term cloud feedback components. 

Chao, Li‐Wei, Mark D. Zelinka, and Andrew E. Dessler. 2024. “Evaluating Cloud Feedback Components In Observations And Their Representation In Climate Models”. Journal Of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 129 (2). American Geophysical Union (AGU). doi:10.1029/2023jd039427.
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