We assess the vertical distribution of cloud feedbacks in coupled climate models, taking care to distinguish between cloud feedbacks and a change in cloud forcing. We show that the effect of cloud changes on the longwave fluxes provides a strong positive feedback that is broadly consistent across models. In contrast, the effect of cloud changes on the shortwave fluxes ranges from a modest negative to a strong positive feedback, and is responsible for most of the intermodel spread in net cloud feedback. The feedback from high clouds is positive in all models, and is consistent with that anticipated by the Proportionately Higher Anvil Temperature hypothesis over the tropics. In contrast, low cloud cover is responsible for roughly three-quarters of the difference in global mean net cloud feedback among models, with the largest contributions from regions associated with low-level subtropical marine cloud systems.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)