Improved Representation of Marine Stratocumulus Cloud Shortwave Radiative Properties in the CMIP5 Climate Models
2014 (English)In: Journal of Climate, ISSN 0894-8755, E-ISSN 1520-0442, Vol. 27, no 16, 6175-6188 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The radiative properties of subtropical marine stratocumulus clouds are investigated in an ensemble of current-generation global climate models from phase 5 of the Climate Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Using a previously documented method for determining regional mean cloud albedo, the authors find a closer agreement with observations in the CMIP5 models as compared to the previous generation of models (phase 3 of CMIP). The multimodel average indicates regional mean, monthly mean cloud albedos ranging from 0.32 to 0.5 among 26 models and five regions, to be compared with satellite observations that indicate a range from 0.32 to 0.39 for the same five regions. The intermodel spread in cloud fraction gives rise to a spread in albedo. Within models, there is a tendency for large cloud fraction to be related to low cloud albedo and vice versa, a relationship that dampens the intermodel variability in total albedo. The intramodel variability in albedo, for a given cloud fraction, is found to be up to twice as large in magnitude in models as in satellite observations. The reason for this larger variability in models is not settled, but possible contributing factors may be imperfect representation in the models of cloud type distribution or of sensitivity to meteorological variability or aerosols. Changes in aerosol loading are found to be the likely cause of an increase in cloud albedo over time. The radiative effect of such a scene brightening in marine stratocumulus cloud regions, from preindustrial times to present day, is estimated to be up to -1W m(-2) for the global ocean, but there are no observations to verify this number.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 27, no 16, 6175-6188 p.
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-107578DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00755.1ISI: 000340310800005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-107578DiVA: diva2:748658