How well do climate models simulate cloud vertical structure? A comparison between CALIPSO-GOCCP satellite observations and CMIP5 models



[1] The Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellite provides robust and global direct measurements of the cloud vertical structure. The GCM-Oriented CALIPSO Cloud Product is used to evaluate the simulated clouds in five climate models using a lidar simulator. The total cloud cover is underestimated in all models (51% to 62% vs. 64% in observations) except in the Arctic. Continental cloud covers (at low, mid, high altitudes) are highly variable depending on the model. In the tropics, the top of deep convective clouds varies between 14 and 18 km in the models versus 16 km in the observations, and all models underestimate the low cloud amount (16% to 25%) compared to observations (29%). In the Arctic, the modeled low cloud amounts (37% to 57%) are slightly biased compared to observations (44%), and the models do not reproduce the observed seasonal variation.