Observational Constraints on Cloud Feedbacks: The Role of Active Satellite Sensors

  • David WinkerEmail author
  • Helene Chepfer
  • Vincent Noel
  • Xia Cai
Part of the Space Sciences Series of ISSI book series (SSSI, volume 65)


Cloud profiling from active lidar and radar in the A-train satellite constellation has significantly advanced our understanding of clouds and their role in the climate system. Nevertheless, the response of clouds to a warming climate remains one of the largest uncertainties in predicting climate change and for the development of adaptions to change. Both observation of long-term changes and observational constraints on the processes responsible for those changes are necessary. We review recent progress in our understanding of the cloud feedback problem. Capabilities and advantages of active sensors for observing clouds are discussed, along with the importance of active sensors for deriving constraints on cloud feedbacks as an essential component of a global climate observing system.


Cloud feedback Satellite lidar Radar Deep convection Shallow clouds 


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The authors acknowledge Sandrine Bony, Steve Klein, Robert Pincus, Bjorn Stevens, and Rob Wood for valuable comments and technical discussions. We acknowledge the assistance of Jason Tackett, who generated Fig. 1. This paper additionally benefited from discussions at the Workshop on ‘‘Shallow clouds and water vapor, circulation and climate sensitivity’’ at the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) and we would like to thank the two reviewers for valuable comments and suggestions, which allowed us to significantly improve this paper. This work has been supported by NASA and CNES.


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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MS/475, NASA Langley Research CenterHamptonUSA
  2. 2.LMD/IPSL, CNRS, UPMCUniversity of Paris 06ParisFrance
  3. 3.Laboratoire d’Aérologie, CNRSToulouseFrance
  4. 4.Science Systems and Applications, Inc (SSAI)HamptonUSA

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