, Volume 33, Issue 3-4, pp 609-617,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 07 Mar 2012

The Role of Clouds: An Introduction and Rapporteur Report

Abstract

This paper presents an overview of discussions during the Cloud’s Role session at the Observing and Modelling Earth’s Energy Flows Workshop. N. Loeb and B. Soden convened this session including 10 presentations by B. Stevens, B. Wielicki, G. Stephens, A. Clement, K. Sassen, D. Hartmann, T. Andrews, A. Del Genio, H. Barker, and M. Sugi addressing critical aspects of the role of clouds in modulating Earth energy flows. Presentation topics covered a diverse range of areas from cloud microphysics and dynamics, cloud radiative transfer, and the role of clouds in large-scale atmospheric circulations patterns in both observations and atmospheric models. The presentations and discussions, summarized below, are organized around several key questions raised during the session. (1) What is the best way to evaluate clouds in climate models? (2) How well do models need to represent clouds to be acceptable for making climate predictions? (3) What are the largest uncertainties in clouds? (4) How can these uncertainties be reduced? (5) What new observations are needed to address these problems? Answers to these critical questions are the topics of ongoing research and will guide the future direction of this area of research.