Improving our fundamental understanding of the role of aerosol−cloud interactions in the climate system

TitleImproving our fundamental understanding of the role of aerosol−cloud interactions in the climate system
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
Authors
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume113
Number21
Pages5781-5790
Date Published05/2016
Abstract / Summary

The effect of an increase in atmospheric aerosol concentrations on the distribution and radiative properties of Earth’s clouds is the most uncertain component of the overall global radiative forcing from preindustrial time. General circulation models (GCMs) are the tool for predicting future climate, but the treatment of aerosols, clouds, and aerosol−cloud radiative effects carries large uncertainties that directly affect GCM predictions, such as climate sensitivity. Predictions are hampered by the large range of scales of interaction between various components that need to be captured. Observation systems (remote sensing, in situ) are increasingly being used to constrain predictions, but significant challenges exist, to some extent because of the large range of scales and the fact that the various measuring systems tend to address different scales. Fine-scale models represent clouds, aerosols, and aerosol−cloud interactions with high fidelity but do not include interactions with the larger scale and are therefore limited from a climatic point of view. We suggest strategies for improving estimates of aerosol−cloud relationships in climate models, for new remote sensing and in situ measurements, and for quantifying and reducing model uncertainty.

URLhttp://www.pnas.org/content/113/21/5781.abstract
DOI10.1073/pnas.1514043113
Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Year of Publication: 2016
Volume: 113
Number: 21
Pages: 5781-5790
Date Published: 05/2016

The effect of an increase in atmospheric aerosol concentrations on the distribution and radiative properties of Earth’s clouds is the most uncertain component of the overall global radiative forcing from preindustrial time. General circulation models (GCMs) are the tool for predicting future climate, but the treatment of aerosols, clouds, and aerosol−cloud radiative effects carries large uncertainties that directly affect GCM predictions, such as climate sensitivity. Predictions are hampered by the large range of scales of interaction between various components that need to be captured. Observation systems (remote sensing, in situ) are increasingly being used to constrain predictions, but significant challenges exist, to some extent because of the large range of scales and the fact that the various measuring systems tend to address different scales. Fine-scale models represent clouds, aerosols, and aerosol−cloud interactions with high fidelity but do not include interactions with the larger scale and are therefore limited from a climatic point of view. We suggest strategies for improving estimates of aerosol−cloud relationships in climate models, for new remote sensing and in situ measurements, and for quantifying and reducing model uncertainty.

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1514043113
Citation:
2016.  "Improving our fundamental understanding of the role of aerosol−cloud interactions in the climate system."  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113(21): 5781-5790.  https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1514043113.