Reducing the aerosol forcing uncertainty using observational constraints on warm rain processes

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Science Advances  29 May 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 22, eaaz6433
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz6433


Global climate models (GCMs) disagree with other lines of evidence on the rapid adjustments of cloud cover and liquid water path to anthropogenic aerosols. Attempts to use observations to constrain the parameterizations of cloud processes in GCMs have failed to reduce the disagreement. We propose using observations sensitive to the relevant cloud processes rather than only to the atmospheric state and focusing on process realism in the absence of aerosol perturbations in addition to the process susceptibility to aerosols. We show that process-sensitive observations of precipitation can reduce the uncertainty on GCM estimates of rapid cloud adjustments to aerosols. The feasibility of an observational constraint depends on understanding the precipitation intensity spectrum in both observations and models and also on improving methods to compare the two.

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