Heating and cooling properties of clouds



Clouds play an important role in Earth's radiation balance, affecting the amount of heat from the Sun that reaches the surface and the heat radiated back from the surface that escapes out into space. The vertically layered structure of clouds complicates these effects, but until recently, scientists did not have instruments that provided the high vertical resolution data needed to fully examine clouds’ heating and cooling effects. Now, using instruments on board the CloudSat and Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) satellites, Haynes et al. examined the radiative heating and cooling characteristics of the layers of the cloudy atmosphere in greater detail than previous studies.