Publication Abstracts

Cesana and Del Genio 2021

Cesana, G., and A.D. Del Genio, 2021: Observational constraint on cloud feedbacks suggests moderate climate sensitivity. Nat. Clim. Change, early on-line, doi:10.1038/s41558-020-00970-y.

Global climate models predict warming in response to increasing GHG concentrations, partly due to decreased tropical low-level cloud cover and reflectance. We use satellite observations that discriminate stratocumulus from shallow cumulus clouds to separately evaluate their sensitivity to warming and constrain the tropical contribution to low-cloud feedback. We find an observationally inferred low-level cloud feedback two times smaller than a previous estimate. Shallow cumulus clouds are insensitive to warming, whereas global climate models exhibit a large positive cloud feedback in shallow cumulus regions. In contrast, stratocumulus clouds show sensitivity to warming and the tropical inversion layer strength, controlled by the tropical Pacific sea surface temperature gradient. Models fail to reproduce the historical sea surface temperature gradient trends and therefore changes in inversion strength, generating an overestimate of the positive stratocumulus cloud feedback. Continued weak east Pacific warming would therefore produce a weaker low-cloud feedback and imply a more moderate climate sensitivity (3.47±0.33 K) than many models predict.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Cesana, G. and Del Genio, A. D.},
  title={Observational constraint on cloud feedbacks suggests moderate climate sensitivity},
  journal={Nat. Clim. Change},

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RIS Citation

ID  - ce06100q
AU  - Cesana, G.
AU  - Del Genio, A. D.
PY  - 2021
TI  - Observational constraint on cloud feedbacks suggests moderate climate sensitivity
JA  - Nat. Clim. Change
DO  - 10.1038/s41558-020-00970-y
ER  -

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