Climatic Change

, Volume 109, Issue 3–4, pp 569–582 | Cite as

The role of low clouds in determining climate sensitivity in response to a doubling of CO2 as obtained from 16 mixed-layer models



The effects that low clouds in sub-tropical to tropical latitudes have in determining a given model’s climate sensitivity is investigated by analyzing the cloud data produced by 16 “slab” or mixed-layer models submitted to the PCMDI and CFMIP archives and their respective response to a doubling of CO2. It is found that, within the context of the 16 models analyzed, changes of these low clouds appear to play a major role in determining model sensitivity but with changes of middle cloud also contributing especially from middle to higher latitudes. It is noted that the models with the smallest overall cloud change produce the smallest climate sensitivities and vice versa although the overall signs of the respective cloud feedbacks are positive. It is also found that the amounts of low cloud as simulated by the respective control runs have very little correlation with their respective climate sensitivities. In general, the overall latitude-height patterns of cloud change as derived from these more recent experiments agree quite well with those obtained from much earlier studies which include increases of the highest cloud, decreases of cloud lower down in the middle and lower tropospheric and small increases of low clouds. Finally, other mitigating factors are mentioned which could also affect the spread of the resulting climate sensitivities.


Climate Sensitivity Cloud Amount High Cloud Cloud Feedback Cloud Type 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© U.S. Government 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geophysical Fluid Dynamics LaboratoryNOAAPrincetonUSA

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