Evaluating Cloud Feedback Components in Observations and Their Representation in Climate Models Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractThis study quantifies the contribution of individual cloud feedbacks to the total shortterm cloud feedback in satellite observations over the period 20022014 and evaluates how they are represented in climate models. The observed positive total cloud feedback is primarily due to positive highcloud altitude, extratropical high and lowcloud optical depth, and land cloud amount feedbacks partially offset by negative tropical marine lowcloud feedback. Seventeen models from the Atmosphere Model Intercomparison Project of the sixth Coupled Model Intercomparison Project are analyzed. The models generally reproduce the observed moderate positive shortterm cloud feedback. However, compared to satellite estimates, the models are systematically highbiased in tropical marine lowcloud and land cloud amount feedbacks and systematically lowbiased in highcloud altitude and extratropical high and lowcloud optical depth feedbacks. Errors in modeled shortterm cloud feedback components identified in this analysis highlight the need for improvements in model simulations of the response of high clouds and tropical marine low clouds. Our results suggest that skill in simulating interannual cloud feedback components may not indicate skill in simulating longterm cloud feedback components.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

altmetric score

  • 14.1

author list (cited authors)

  • Chao, L., Zelinka, M. D., & Dessler, A. E.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Chao, Li‐Wei||Zelinka, Mark D||Dessler, Andrew E

publication date

  • January 2024