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Climate Processes: Clouds, Aerosols and Dynamics

  • Steven C. Sherwood
  • M. Joan Alexander
  • Andy R. Brown
  • Norm A. McFarlane
  • Edwin P. Gerber
  • Graham Feingold
  • Adam A. Scaife
  • Wojciech W. Grabowski
Chapter

Abstract

Physical processes not well resolved by climate models continue to limit confidence in detailed predictions of climate change. The representation of cloud and convection-related processes dominates the model spread in global climate sensitivity, and affects the simulation of important aspects of the present-day climate especially in the tropics. Uncertainty in aerosol radiative effects complicates the interpretation of climate changes in the observational and paleoclimate records, in particular limiting our ability to infer climate sensitivity. Dynamical uncertainties, notably those involving teleconnections and troposphere-stratosphere interaction, also affect simulation of regional climate change especially at high latitudes. In response, targeted field programs, new satellite capabilities, and new computational approaches are promoting progress on these problems. Advances include recognition of the likely importance of non-greenhouse gas forcings in driving recent trends in the general circulation, compensating interactions and emergent phenomena in aerosol-cloud-dynamical systems, and the climatic importance of cumulus entrainment. Continued progress will require, among other things, more integrative analysis of key processes across scales, recognizing the complexity at the local level but also the constraints and possible buffering operating at larger (system) scales.

Keywords

Clouds Atmospheric convection Aerosols Cloud-aerosol interaction Atmospheric dynamics Climate feedbacks Climate modeling 

Notes

Acknowledgments 

AAS was supported by the Joint DECC/Defra Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme (GA01101). EPG is supported by the US National Science Foundation under grant AGS- 0938325. GF acknowledges NOAA’s Climate Goal.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven C. Sherwood
    • 1
  • M. Joan Alexander
    • 2
  • Andy R. Brown
    • 3
  • Norm A. McFarlane
    • 4
  • Edwin P. Gerber
    • 5
  • Graham Feingold
    • 6
  • Adam A. Scaife
    • 3
  • Wojciech W. Grabowski
    • 7
  1. 1.Climate Change Research Centre (CCRC) and Australian Research Council (ARC), Centre of Excellence for Earth Systems ScienceUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.NorthWest Research AssociatesBoulderUSA
  3. 3.Met Office, Hadley CentreExeterUK
  4. 4.Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and AnalysisUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  5. 5.Center for Atmosphere Ocean Science, Courant Institute of Mathematical SciencesNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  6. 6.Chemical Sciences DivisionNOAA Earth System Research LaboratoryBoulderUSA
  7. 7.Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology DivisionNational Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA

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