Archive for 24 settembre 2010


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NASA GISS: Science Briefs: Does Heating from Black Carbon Increase Cooling from Clouds?
Does Heating from Black Carbon Increase Cooling from Clouds?  By Dorothy Koch

— September 2010 Black carbon particles, commonly called soot, are dark and light-absorbing and therefore warm the climate. Soot comes from combustion of fossil and biofuels, especially burning of diesel, coal and wood. Due to its warming effects, reduction of soot could help cool climate. However, soot absorption also affects cloud distributions and the verdict on how the clouds change is unclear. Because clouds mostly cool the climate, the possibility that soot absorption could increase cloud cover needs to be considered. Lofted smoke from wildfires such as these in Baja California may promote persistence of stratocumulus clouds off the coast, but may have inhibited cumulus cloud development over land. (Image: GSFC/MODIS Rapid Response Team and Earth Observatory) In a recent review of past studies of the effect of soot and other absorbing aerosols on clouds, we found ten processes described that either increase or decrease cloud cover. The cloud response depends on conditions such as relative altitude of smoke and cloud, cloud type, and meteorological conditions. On one hand, soot embedded within clouds promotes cloud evaporation. On the other hand smoke or soot pollution blown from land up and over stratocumulus cloud decks over the oceans has been observed to stabilize and promote cloud persistence. But lofted smoke over dry land environments appears to inhibit formation of convective cumulus clouds. The studies indicate that more strongly absorbing aerosols, as would be expected from sources with lots of black carbon (like diesel or wood-smoke), have largest cloud response. Global model studies of soot effects on clouds do indeed find a variety of cloud responses, with increased clouds in some regions  and decreased clouds in others. Most of the global model studies indicate that the net cloud response to absorbing particles is cooling. This suggests the need for caution when pursuing mitigation of soot in order to cool climate. At the same time, relatively few global model studies have been conducted, and the global model cloud responses should be better tested against cloud scale models and field studies.

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NASA GISS: Research in Climate Modeling
GISS Research Global Climate Modeling. The climate modeling program at GISS is primarily aimed at the development of three-dimensional general circulation models (GCMs) and coupled atmosphere-ocean models for simulating Earth’s climate system, although some research efforts may include the use and development of two-dimensional energy balance models (EBMs), and one-dimensional radiative-convective models (RCMs). Primary emphasis in the use of the GCMs is placed on investigation of climate sensitivity, including the climate system’s response to such forcings as solar variability, anthropogenic and natural emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols, etc. A major focus of GISS GCM simulations is to study the potential for humans to impact the climate as well as the impact of a changing climate on society and the environment. GCM developmental research focuses on sensitivity to parameterizations of clouds and moist convection, ground hydrology, and ocean-atmosphere-ice interactions, as well as investigations of more accurate numerical methods. The program also involves development of techniques to infer global cloud properties from satellite radiance measurements of the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project. Ongoing field and laboratory programs in palynology, paleoclimate reconstruction, and other geophysical sciences provide fundamental climate data for evaluating and validating model predictions.