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Cloud physics from space

Stephens, G. L., Christensen, M., Andrews, T., Haywood, J., Malavelle, F. F., Suzuki, K., Jing, X., Lebsock, M., Li, J.-L. F., Takahshi, H. and Sy, O. (2019) Cloud physics from space. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 145 (724). pp. 2854-2875. ISSN 1477-870X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/qj.3589


A review of the progression of cloud physics from a subdiscipline of meteorology into the global science it is today is described. The discussion briefly touches on the important post‐war contributions of three key individuals who were instrumental in developing cloud physics into a global science. These contributions came on the heels of the post‐war weather modification efforts that influenced much of the early development of cloud physics. The review is centered on the properties of warm clouds primarily to limit the scope of the paper and the connection between the early contributions to cloud physics and the current vexing problem of aerosol effects on cloud albedo is underlined. Progress toward estimating cloud properties from space and insights on warm cloud processes are described. Measurements of selected cloud properties, such as cloud liquid water path are now mature enough that multi‐decadal time series of these properties exist and this climatology is used to compare to analogous low cloud properties taken from global climate models. The too wet (and thus too bright) and the too dreary biases of models are called out underscoring the challenges we still face in representing warm clouds in Earth system models. We also provide strategies for using observations to constrain the indirect radiative forcing of the climate system.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:84694
Uncontrolled Keywords:Atmospheric Science
Publisher:Royal Meteorological Society


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