Diagnosing Climate Feedbacks in Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Models

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8 Scopus citations


We review the methodologies used to quantify climate feedbacks in coupled models. The method of radiative kernels is outlined and used to illustrate the dependence of lapse rate, water vapor, surface albedo, and cloud feedbacks on (1) the length of the time average used to define two projected climate states and (2) the time separation between the two climate states. Except for the shortwave component of water vapor feedback, all feedback processes exhibit significant high-frequency variations and intermodel variability of feedback strengths for sub-decadal time averages. It is also found that the uncertainty of lapse rate, water vapor, and cloud feedback decreases with the increase in the time separation. The results suggest that one can substantially reduce the uncertainty of cloud and other feedbacks with the accumulation of accurate, long-term records of satellite observations; however, several decades may be required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)733-744
Number of pages12
JournalSurveys in Geophysics
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Climate feedbacks
  • Kernels
  • Time dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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