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Large contribution of supercooled liquid clouds to the solar radiation budget of the Southern Ocean

Bodas-Salcedo, A., Hill, P. G. ORCID:, Furtado, K., Williams, K. D., Field, P. R., Manners, J. C., Hyder, P. and Kato, S. (2016) Large contribution of supercooled liquid clouds to the solar radiation budget of the Southern Ocean. Journal of Climate, 29 (11). pp. 4213-4228. ISSN 1520-0442

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0564.1


The Southern Ocean is a critical region for global climate, yet large cloud and solar radiation biases over the Southern Ocean are a long-standing problem in climate models and are poorly understood, leading to biases in simulated sea surface temperatures. This study shows that supercooled liquid clouds are central to understanding and simulating the Southern Ocean environment. A combination of satellite observational data and detailed radiative transfer calculations is used to quantify the impact of cloud phase and cloud vertical structure on the reflected solar radiation in the Southern Hemisphere summer. It is found that clouds with supercooled liquid tops dominate the population of liquid clouds. The observations show that clouds with supercooled liquid tops contribute between 27% and 38% to the total reflected solar radiation between 40° and 70°S, and climate models are found to poorly simulate these clouds. The results quantify the importance of supercooled liquid clouds in the Southern Ocean environment and highlight the need to improve understanding of the physical processes that control these clouds in order to improve their simulation in numerical models. This is not only important for improving the simulation of present-day climate and climate variability, but also relevant for increasing confidence in climate feedback processes and future climate projections.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:65669
Publisher:American Meteorological Society


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