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  1. Abstract The Southern Ocean is covered by a large amount of clouds with high cloud albedo. However, as reported by previous climate model intercomparison projects, underestimated cloudiness and overestimated absorption of solar radiation (ASR) over the Southern Ocean lead to substantial biases in climate sensitivity. The present study revisits this long-standing issue and explores the uncertainty sources in the latest CMIP6 models. We employ 10-year satellite observations to evaluate cloud radiative effect (CRE) and cloud physical properties in five CMIP6 models that provide comprehensive output of cloud, radiation, and aerosol. The simulated longwave, shortwave, and net CRE at the top of atmosphere in CMIP6 are comparable with the CERES satellite observations. Total cloud fraction (CF) is also reasonably simulated in CMIP6, but the comparison of liquid cloud fraction (LCF) reveals marked biases in spatial pattern and seasonal variations. The discrepancies between the CMIP6 models and the MODIS satellite observations become even larger in other cloud macro- and micro-physical properties, including liquid water path (LWP), cloud optical depth (COD), and cloud effective radius, as well as aerosol optical depth (AOD). However, the large underestimation of both LWP and cloud effective radius (regional means ∼20% and 11%, respectively) results in relatively smallermore »bias in COD, and the impacts of the biases in COD and LCF also cancel out with each other, leaving CRE and ASR reasonably predicted in CMIP6. An error estimation framework is employed, and the different signs of the sensitivity errors and biases from CF and LWP corroborate the notions that there are compensating errors in the modeled shortwave CRE. Further correlation analyses of the geospatial patterns reveal that CF is the most relevant factor in determining CRE in observations, while the modeled CRE is too sensitive to LWP and COD. The relationships between cloud effective radius, LWP, and COD are also analyzed to explore the possible uncertainty sources in different models. Our study calls for more rigorous calibration of detailed cloud physical properties for future climate model development and climate projection.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2023
  2. Abstract. Vertical profiles of aerosols are inadequately observed and poorlyrepresented in climate models, contributing to the current large uncertaintyassociated with aerosol–cloud interactions. The US Department of Energy (DOE) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Aerosol and CloudExperiments in the Eastern North Atlantic (ACE-ENA) aircraft field campaignnear the Azores islands provided ample observations of verticaldistributions of aerosol and cloud properties. Here we utilize the in situaircraft measurements from the ACE-ENA and ground-based remote-sensing dataalong with an aerosol-aware Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model tocharacterize the aerosols due to long-range transport over a remote regionand to assess their possible influence on marine-boundary-layer (MBL)clouds. The vertical profiles of aerosol and cloud properties measured viaaircraft during the ACE-ENA campaign provide detailed information revealingthe physical contact between transported aerosols and MBL clouds. TheEuropean Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (ECMWF-CAMS) aerosol reanalysis data can reproduce the key features of aerosolvertical profiles in the remote region. The cloud-resolving WRF sensitivityexperiments with distinctive aerosol profiles suggest that the transportedaerosols and MBL cloud interactions (ACIs) require not only aerosol plumes to get close to the marine-boundary-layer top but also large cloud topheight variations. Based on those criteria, the observations show that theoccurrence of ACIs involving the transportmore »of aerosol over the eastern NorthAtlantic (ENA) is about 62 % in summer. For the case with noticeable long-range-transport aerosol effects on MBL clouds, the susceptibilities of dropleteffective radius and liquid water content are −0.11 and +0.14,respectively. When varying by a similar magnitude, aerosols originatingfrom the boundary layer exert larger microphysical influence on MBL cloudsthan those entrained from the free troposphere.« less
  3. Abstract

    Simulations of tropical atmospheric circulation response to surface warming vary substantially across models, causing large uncertainties in projections of regional precipitation change. Understanding the physical processes that drive the model spread in tropical circulation changes is critically needed. Here we employ the basic mass balance and energetic constraints on tropical circulation to identify the dominant factors that determine multidecadal circulation strength and area changes in climate models. We show that the models produce a robust weakening of descent rate under warming regardless of surface warming patterns; however, ascent rate change exhibits inter-model spread twice as large as descent rate because of diverse model responses in the radiative effects of clouds, water vapor, and aerosols. As ascent area change is dictated by the disparate descent and ascent rate changes due to the mass budget and the inter-model spread in descent rate change is small, the model spread in ascent area change is dominated by that of ascent rate change, resulting in a strong anti-correlation of –0.85 between the fractional changes of ascent strength and area across 77 climate model simulations. This anti-correlation leads to a corresponding inverse relationship between the rates of precipitation intensifying and narrowing of the inter-tropical convergencemore »zone (ITCZ), suggesting tropical ascent area change can be potentially used to constrain the ITCZ precipitation change. Longwave cloud radiative effect at the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) in the convective region is identified to be a major source of uncertainties for tropical ascent rate change and thus for regional precipitation change.

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