Climate sensitivity and cloud feedback processes imposed by two different external forcings in an aquaplanet GCM
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The sensitivity of climate to an increase in sea surface temperature (SST) and CO2, as well as cloud feedback processes, is analyzed through a series of aquaplanet experiments listed in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. Rainfall is strengthened in a +4K anomaly SST experiment due to the enhanced surface evaporation; while in a quadruple CO2 experiment, precipitation and total cloud cover are appreciably weakened. In both the +4K and quadruple CO2 (4xCO2) experiments, the Hadley cell is impaired, with an increase in moderate subsidence and a decrease in the frequency of strong convective activity. Regarding cloud radiation forcing (CRF), the analysis technique of Bony et al. (Climate Dynamics, 22:71–86, 2004) is used to sort cloud variables by dynamic regimes using the 500-hPa vertical velocity in tropical areas (30°S–30°N). Results show that the tropically averaged CRF change is negative and is dominated mainly by the thermodynamic component. Within convective regimes, the behavior of longwave CRF is different in the +4K and 4xCO2 experiments, with positive and negative changes, respectively. The globally averaged CRF also reveals a negative change in both aquaplanet and Earthlike experiments, implying that clouds may play a role in decelerating global warming. The calculated climate sensitivity demonstrates that our results are close to those obtained from other models, with 0.384 and 0.584 Km2 W−1 for aquaplanet and Earthlike experiments, respectively.
KeywordsCloud Fraction Cloud Feedback Total Cloud Cover Cloud Radiation Force Cloud Water Path
This research was supported by the “Strategic Priority Research Program—Climate Change: Carbon Budget and Relevant Issues” of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA05110303), the National Key Basic Research Program (2012CB417203), and National Science Foundation of China (40805038 and 41023002).
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