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Compensation Between Cloud Feedback and Aerosol-Cloud Interaction in CMIP6 Models

Author(s): Wang, Chenggong; Soden, Brian J; Yang, Wenchang; Vecchi, Gabriel A

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Abstract: The most recent generation of climate models (the 6th Phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project) yields estimates of effective climate sensitivity (ECS) that are much higher than past generations due to a stronger amplification from cloud feedback. If plausible, these models require substantially larger greenhouse gas reductions to meet global warming targets. We show that models with a more positive cloud feedback also have a stronger cooling effect from aerosol‐cloud interactions. These two effects offset each other during the historical period when both aerosols and greenhouse gases increase, allowing either more positive or neutral cloud feedback models to reproduce the observed global‐mean temperature change. Since anthropogenic aerosols primarily concentrate in the Northern Hemisphere, strong aerosol‐cloud interaction models produce an interhemispheric asymmetric warming. We show that the observed warming asymmetry during the mid to late 20th century is more consistent with low ECS (weak aerosol indirect effect) models.
Publication Date: 25-Jan-2021
Citation: Wang, Chenggong, Brian J. Soden, Wenchang Yang, and Gabriel A. Vecchi. "Compensation Between Cloud Feedback and Aerosol‐Cloud Interaction in CMIP6 Models." Geophysical Research Letters 48, no. 4 (2021). doi:10.1029/2020GL091024.
DOI: doi:10.1029/2020GL091024
ISSN: 0094-8276
EISSN: 1944-8007
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Geophysical Research Letters
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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