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Publication Date
2 October 2023

A Refined Understanding of the Ice Cloud Longwave Scattering Effects in Climate Model



Because longwave (LW) absorption by greenhouse gases and clouds is more significant than the LW scattering effect by clouds, most climate models neglect cloud LW scattering to save computational costs. Ignoring cloud LW scattering directly overestimates outgoing longwave radiation (OLR). This study included ice-cloud LW scattering treatment in the Exascale Energy Earth System Model (E3SM) version 2 and ran fully-coupled simulations, prescribed sea surface temperature simulations, and offline radiative transfer calculations to comprehensively assess the impact of ice-cloud LW scattering on global climate simulation. The instantaneous effect due to ice-cloud LW scattering reduces the OLR by ∼1 W/m2 on the global average and 2 W/m2 on the tropical average. Tropospheric warming and high cloud amount reduction act to partially compensate for such instantaneous OLR reduction caused by the inclusion of LW scattering. When the simulation reaches the equilibrium, the surface warms by 0.66 K on average with respect to the simulation without LW scattering, with the Arctic surface temperature differences more than twice as large as that of the global mean. The impact of including LW scattering on the simulated climate change in response to 4 × CO2 is also assessed. While including the cloud LW scattering does not significantly modify radiative forcing and total radiative feedback under such a scenario, it results in a 10% more positive cloud feedback.

Fan, Chongxing, Yi-Hsuan Chen, Xiuhong Chen, Wuyin Lin, Ping Yang, and Xianglei Huang. 2023. “A Refined Understanding Of The Ice Cloud Longwave Scattering Effects In Climate Model”. Journal Of Advances In Modeling Earth Systems 15. doi:10.1029/2023MS003810.
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