What the Heck are Low-Cloud Feedbacks? Takanobu Yamaguchi Rachel R. McCrary Anna B. Harper

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1 What the Heck are Low-Cloud Feedbacks? Takanobu Yamaguchi Rachel R. McCrary Anna B. Harper

2 IPCC Cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty.

3 Roadmap 1. Low cloud primer 2. Radiation and low clouds 3. What the heck are feedbacks? 4. Low clouds and climate change 5. IPCC... again 6. Low clouds in models 7. Low clouds at CMMAP 8. Take-home messages Mr. Bean s Holiday obtained at

4 Cool low clouds

5 Cool low clouds

6 Cool low clouds

7 Cool low clouds

8 Cool low clouds

9 Cool low clouds

10 Low clouds subsidence from high pressure cloud top height 2~3 km trade wind warm & dry turbulence warm cloud top height ~1 km cool & moist cool upwelling Low clouds cover a large fraction of the tropics and subtropics. Low clouds have a strong negative cloud radiative effect (CRE).

11 Radiation All objects emit at a rate proportional to their temperature. Solar peaks in the visible wavelengths Sun ~6000 K shortwave (SW) Earth s peaks in the infrared wavelengths longwave (LW) or infrared (IR) Earth ~288 K

12 Clouds and Radiation Tiny liquid cloud droplets are excellent absorbers and emitters of infrared. However, they don t absorb solar, instead they reflect it.

13 Albedo Albedo is the amount of reflected by a surface. SURFACE ALBEDO fresh snow 75-95% thick clouds 60-90% thin clouds 30-50% ice 30-40% avg. Earth & atmosphere 30% ocean 10%

14 Low clouds and Shortwave Radiation Clear Sky Longwave Radiation Sun Incoming Shortwave(SW) Radiation 10 % of incoming SW reflected by the Surface 10 % of incoming SW reflected by the Ocean Surface Reflected SW Radiation Most SW absorbed by surface Sun Shortwave Radiation Incoming SW Radiation 20 % of incoming SW reflected by the clouds Reflected SW Radiation clouds reflect SW Sea Surface Longwave emitted by surface Cloudy Sky The atmosphere absorbs longwave and reemits longwave Longwave emitted by surface Longwave emitted by clouds Longwave Radiation clouds absorb and emit longwave Longwave emitted by the atmosphere Longwave emitted by the atmosphere Longwave emitted by surface Clear sky planetary albedo - 10% Cloudy sky planetary albedo - 30% Low clouds act to cool the earth/ atmosphere system Reflected SW Radiation Only 70% of SW absorbed by ocean Sea Surface Longwave emitted by clouds Longwave emitted by surface

15 Shortwave Radiation Low clouds and Clear Sky Longwave Radiation Sun Incoming Shortwave(SW) Radiation 10 % of incoming SW reflected by the Ocean Surface Reflected SW Radiation Most SW absorbed by surface 10 % of incoming SW reflected by the Surface Sun Reflected SW Radiation Shortwave Radiation Incoming SW Radiation Only 70% of SW absorbed by ocean Sea Surface 20 % of incoming SW reflected by the clouds Reflected SW Radiation clouds reflect SW Cloudy Sky Sea Surface Longwave emitted by surface Longwave emitted by clouds Longwave emitted by clouds The atmosphere absorbs longwave and reemits longwave Longwave emitted by surface Longwave Radiation clouds absorb and emit longwave Longwave emitted by surface Longwave emitted by surface Longwave emitted by the atmosphere Longwave emitted by the atmosphere Clear sky planetary albedo - 10% Cloudy sky planetary albedo - 30% Low clouds act to cool the earth/ atmosphere system

16 Low clouds and Shortwave Radiation Clear Sky Longwave Radiation 10 % of incoming SW reflected by the Surface Sun Sun Incoming Shortwave(SW) Radiation 10 % of incoming SW reflected by the Ocean Surface Reflected SW Radiation Most SW absorbed by surface Shortwave Radiation Incoming SW Radiation 20 % of incoming SW reflected by the clouds Reflected SW Radiation clouds reflect SW Sea Surface Longwave emitted by surface The atmosphere absorbs longwave and reemits longwave Longwave emitted by surface Cloudy Sky Longwave emitted by the atmosphere Longwave emitted by the atmosphere Longwave emitted by clouds Longwave Radiation clouds absorb and emit longwave Longwave emitted by surface Clear sky planetary albedo - 10% Cloudy sky planetary albedo - 30% Low clouds act to cool the earth/ atmosphere system Reflected SW Radiation Longwave emitted by clouds Longwave emitted by surface Only 70% of SW absorbed by ocean Sea Surface

17 Low clouds and Shortwave Radiation Clear Sky Longwave Radiation Sun Incoming Shortwave(SW) Radiation 10 % of incoming SW reflected by the Surface 10 % of incoming SW reflected by the Ocean Surface Reflected SW Radiation Most SW absorbed by surface Sun Shortwave Radiation Incoming SW Radiation 20 % of incoming SW reflected by the clouds Reflected SW Radiation clouds reflect SW Sea Surface Longwave emitted by surface Cloudy Sky The atmosphere absorbs longwave and reemits longwave Longwave emitted by surface Longwave emitted by clouds Longwave Radiation clouds absorb and emit longwave Longwave emitted by the atmosphere Longwave emitted by the atmosphere Longwave emitted by surface Clear sky planetary albedo - 10% Cloudy sky planetary albedo - 30% Low clouds act to cool the earth/ atmosphere system Reflected SW Radiation Only 70% of SW absorbed by ocean Sea Surface Longwave emitted by clouds Longwave emitted by surface

18 A feedback is a mechanism that tends to either amplify or damp a process. Feedbacks in climate change act to either amplify or damp the effects of greenhouse warming on the surface temperature. What is a feedback?

19 Feedbacks example - The Cold War

20 Feedbacks example - The Cold War

21 Feedbacks example - The Cold War

22 Feedbacks example - The Cold War

23 Feedbacks example - The Cold War

24 Feedbacks example - The Cold War

25 Possible low cloud feedbacks Positive cloud feedback Increased Greenhouse Gas concentrations External Forcing

26 Possible low cloud feedbacks Positive cloud feedback Increased Greenhouse Gas concentrations External Forcing Warmer Surface Temperatures

27 Possible low cloud feedbacks Positive cloud feedback Increased Greenhouse Gas concentrations External Forcing Warmer Surface Temperatures Decreased lowcloud radiative effect (?)???

28 Possible low cloud feedbacks Positive cloud feedback Increased Greenhouse Gas concentrations External Forcing Warmer Surface Temperatures Decreased lowcloud radiative effect (?) Increased energy absorbed by the system???

29 Possible low cloud feedbacks Positive cloud feedback Increased Greenhouse Gas concentrations External Forcing Warmer Surface Temperatures Enhances Surface Warming Decreased lowcloud radiative effect (?)??? +(?) Increased energy absorbed by the system

30 Possible low cloud feedbacks Negative Positive cloud feedback Increased Greenhouse Gas concentrations External Forcing Warmer Surface Temperatures Enhances Decreases Surface Surface Warming Warming Decreased Increased lowcloud radiative effect (?)??? +(?) -(?) Decreased Increased energy absorbed by the system

31 Low clouds and climate change As our climate changes the characteristics of low clouds may change in many ways: Total low cloud cover Cloud type Physical characteristics - Liquid water content - Cloud drop size Aerosols??

32

33 Cloud radiative effect predicted by GCMs Sensitivity of tropical net CRE to SST changes: 8 models predict negative, 7 models predict positive.

34 Largest discrepancy in low clouds Adapted from Bony and Dufresne (2005) thunderstorms low clouds upward large scale vertical velocity downward The spread of tropical cloud feedbacks among the models primarily arises from inter-model differences in low cloud feedbacks.

35 Largest discrepancy in low clouds Adapted from Bony and Dufresne (2005) thunderstorms low clouds upward large scale vertical velocity downward The spread of tropical cloud feedbacks among the models primarily arises from inter-model differences in low cloud feedbacks.

36 Why are low clouds a problem for some models? Clouds are a subgrid scale (SGS) process in GCM. CRM resolves big clouds but not small clouds like low clouds. Clouds have to be parameterized. Processes in the clouds are not well understood. Turbulence, aerosols, drizzle, precipitation,, etc. One GCM grid size ~ 200 km

37 Why are low clouds a problem for some models? Clouds are a subgrid scale (SGS) process in GCM. CRM resolves big clouds but not small clouds like low clouds. One CRM grid size ~ 5 km Clouds have to be parameterized. Processes in the clouds are not well understood. Turbulence, aerosols, drizzle, precipitation,, etc. One GCM grid size ~ 200 km

38 Large eddy simulation Large eddy simulation (LES) model resolves clouds with ~50 m or finer grid size. Useful tool to study cloudscale processes Test parameterizations used in GCM and CRM. Problems: expensive for large domain and/or higher resolution, LES still requires parameterizations.

39 Example LESs can be used to test hypotheses with realistic & idealized conditions. Right: What happens if dry air is entrained into marine stratocumulus clouds under an idealized condition? Idealized 3D LES with 5 m isotropic grid and 3.2 km horizontal domain

40 Tools GCM CP more parameterization GCM - uses conventional parameterization (CP) MMF - CRM is embedded in each GCM grid, super parametrization LES - very high resolution Observations - satellite, field studies MMF LES CRM less parameterization Obs.

41 Tools GCM CP more parameterization GCM - uses conventional parameterization (CP) MMF - CRM is embedded in each GCM grid, super parametrization LES - very high resolution Observations - satellite, field studies MMF LES CRM less parameterization Obs.

42 Low cloud CMMAP.org Develop improved conventional parameterization of low clouds Understand low cloud feedback in the MMF Improve the ability of CRMs to simulate low clouds Collaboration with Cloud Feedback Intercomparison Project

43 Low cloud CMMAP.org Our theme leaders Develop improved conventional parameterization of low clouds Understand low cloud feedback in the MMF Improve the ability of CRMs to simulate low clouds Collaboration with Cloud Feedback Intercomparison Project

44 Low cloud CMMAP.org Our theme leaders Develop improved conventional parameterization of low clouds Understand low cloud feedback in the MMF Improve the ability of CRMs to simulate low clouds Collaboration with Cloud Feedback Intercomparison Project

45 Develop improved CP of low clouds Different GCMs GCM GCM GCM aqua-planet

46 Develop improved CP of low clouds Different GCMs GCM GCM GCM aqua-planet simulate with the same boundary conditions How is the cloud response of each aqua-planet GCM?

47 Develop improved CP of low clouds Different GCMs GCM GCM GCM aqua-planet simulate with the same boundary conditions How is the cloud response of each aqua-planet GCM? The different global cloud responses among different GCMs mainly come from the different responses of the low clouds.

48 Develop improved CP of low clouds Different GCMs GCM GCM GCM aqua-planet simulate with the same boundary conditions How is the cloud response of each aqua-planet GCM? The different global cloud responses among different GCMs mainly come from the different responses of the low clouds. The different representations of shallow clouds contribute to the disagreement among GCMs.

49 Develop improved CP of low clouds Different GCMs GCM GCM GCM Develop improved parameterization aqua-planet simulate with the same boundary conditions How is the cloud response of each aqua-planet GCM? Further studies with CP, CRM and LES The different global cloud responses among different GCMs mainly come from the different responses of the low clouds. The different representations of shallow clouds contribute to the disagreement among GCMs.

50 Understand low cloud feedback in the MMF SP-CAM MMF MMF control +2 K SST

51 Understand low cloud feedback in the MMF SP-CAM MMF control MMF +2 K SST How does CRE of +2K SST case differ from control run?

52 Understand low cloud feedback in the MMF SP-CAM MMF control MMF +2 K SST How does CRE of +2K SST case differ from control run? Change in Low Cloud due to 2K SST increase SP-CAM tropical low cloud cover increases substantially as the climate warms. This has a net cooling effect.

53 Understand low cloud feedback in the MMF SP-CAM MMF control MMF +2 K SST How does CRE of +2K SST case differ from control run? Change in Low Cloud due to 2K SST increase SP-CAM tropical low cloud cover increases substantially as the climate warms. This has a net cooling effect. Why do the low clouds increase?

54 Understand low cloud feedback in the MMF SP-CAM MMF MMF How does CRE of +2K SST case differ from control run? Further studies with CRM and LES control +2 K SST Change in Low Cloud due to 2K SST increase SP-CAM tropical low cloud cover increases substantially as the climate warms. This has a net cooling effect. Why do the low clouds increase?

55 Take-home messages Cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty, especially low clouds. GCMs disagree with each other due to the low cloud parameterizations. Currently we do not understand low cloud feedbacks. That s why we are here! Ask them (not us) Visit low cloud feedback breakout session 1:15 pm~, Wednesday

56 questions Any feedbacks?

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