Intercomparison and interpretation of climate feedback processes in 19 atmospheric general circulation models

Authors

  • R. D. Cess,

  • G. L. Potter,

  • J. P. Blanchet,

  • G. J. Boer,

  • A. D. Del Genio,

  • M. Déqué,

  • V. Dymnikov,

  • V. Galin,

  • W. L. Gates,

  • S. J. Ghan,

  • J. T. Kiehl,

  • A. A. Lacis,

  • H. Le Treut,

  • Z.-X. Li,

  • X.-Z. Liang,

  • B. J. McAvaney,

  • V. P. Meleshko,

  • J. F. B. Mitchell,

  • J.-J. Morcrette,

  • D. A. Randall,

  • L. Rikus,

  • E. Roeckner,

  • J. F. Royer,

  • U. Schlese,

  • D. A. Sheinin,

  • A. Slingo,

  • A. P. Sokolov,

  • K. E. Taylor,

  • W. M. Washington,

  • R. T. Wetherald,

  • I. Yagai,

  • M.-H. Zhang


Abstract

The need to understand differences among general circulation model projections of CO2-induced climatic change has motivated the present study, which provides an intercomparison and interpretation of climate feedback processes in 19 atmospheric general circulation models. This intercomparison uses sea surface temperature change as a surrogate for climate change. The interpretation of cloud-climate interactions is given special attention. A roughly threefold variation in one measure of global climate sensitivity is found among the 19 models. The important conclusion is that most of this variation is attributable to differences in the models' depiction of cloud feedback, a result that emphasizes the need for improvements in the treatment of clouds in these models if they are ultimately to be used as reliable climate predictors. It is further emphasized that cloud feedback is the consequence of all interacting physical and dynamical processes in a general circulation model. The result of these processes is to produce changes in temperature, moisture distribution, and clouds which are integrated into the radiative response termed cloud feedback.

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