Cirrus feedback on interannual climate fluctuations Academic Article uri icon


  • 2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Cirrus clouds are not only important in determining the current climate but also play an important role in climate change and variability. Analysis of satellite observations shows that the amount and altitude of cirrus clouds (cloud optical depth < 3.6, cloud top pressure < 440 hPa) increase in response to interannual surface warming. Using cirrus cloud radiative kernels, the magnitude of the interannual cirrus feedback is estimated to be 0.20 0.21 W/m2/C, which represents an important component of the cloud feedback. Thus, cirrus clouds are likely to act as a positive feedback on interannual climate fluctuations, by reducing the Earth's ability to radiate longwave radiation to space in response to planetary surface warming. Most of the cirrus feedback comes from increasing cloud amount in the tropical tropopause layer (TTL) and subtropical upper troposphere. Key Points Cirrus clouds likely contribute a positive feedback on climate fluctuationsCirrus cloud amount and altitude increase in response to surface warmingCirrus clouds represent an important component of the cloud feedback

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3.6

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhou, C., Dessler, A. E., Zelinka, M. D., Yang, P., & Wang, T.

citation count

  • 41

complete list of authors

  • Zhou, C||Dessler, AE||Zelinka, MD||Yang, P||Wang, T

publication date

  • December 2014