Warmer Clouds, Cooler Planet


New paper: precipitation-related “feedback” cycle means models may overestimate warming

Today’s climate models are showing more warmth than their predecessors, forecasting an even hotter future for the same rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide. But a paper published this week highlights how models may err on the side of too much warming: Earth’s warming clouds cool the surface more than anticipated, the German-led team reported in Nature Climate Change.   

“Our work shows that the increase in climate sensitivity from the last generation of climate models should be taken with a huge grain of salt,” said CIRES Fellow Jennifer Kay, an associate professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at CU Boulder and co-author on the paper.

She and her colleagues modified a model used in international climate assessments like the IPCC to better understand the impact that warmer clouds have on climate. 

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