Clouds less climate-sensitive than assumed

Posted: December 1, 2022 by oldbrew in Analysis, Clouds, data, modelling, research, Temperature
Tags: ,

Cumulus clouds from above [image credit: Jakec @ Wikipedia]

From airborne observations, these researchers find ‘trade-wind clouds are far less sensitive to global warming than has long been assumed’. Their study says: ‘Our observational analyses render models with large positive feedbacks implausible’. Consequently, they believe, extreme rise in Earth’s temperatures is less likely than previously thought.
– – –
In a major field campaign in 2020, Dr. Raphaela Vogel who is now at Universität Hamburg’s Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN) and an international team from the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique in Paris and the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg analyzed observational data they and others collected in fields of cumulus clouds near the Atlantic island of Barbados.

Their analysis revealed that these clouds’ contribution to climate warming has to be reassessed, says Eurekalert.

“Trade-wind clouds influence the climate system around the globe, but the data demonstrate behavior differently than previously assumed. Consequently, an extreme rise in Earth’s temperatures is less likely than previously thought,” says Vogel, an atmospheric scientist.

“Though this aspect is very important for more accurately projecting future climate scenarios, it definitely doesn’t mean we can back off on climate protection.”

To date, many climate models have simulated a major reduction in trade-wind clouds, which would mean much of their cooling function would be lost and the atmosphere would consequently warm even more. The new observational data shows that this isn’t likely to occur.

What is certain is that, as global warming progresses, more water on the ocean’s surface evaporates and the moisture near the base of trade-wind clouds increases. In contrast, the air masses in the upper part of the clouds are very dry and only become slightly moister. This produces a substantial difference in moisture above and below. In the atmosphere, this is dispelled when the air masses mix.

The previous hypothesis: drier air is transported downward, causing the cloud droplets to evaporate more rapidly and making it more likely that the clouds will dissipate.

The observational data from Barbados now offers the first robust quantification as to how pronounced the vertical mixing actually is, and how this affects moisture and cloud cover as a whole. As such, it is the first data to shed light on a process that is essential to understanding climate change.

In brief: more intensive mixing does not make the lower layers drier or make the clouds dissipate. Rather, the data shows that the cloud cover actually increases with increasing vertical mixing.

“That’s good news, because it means that trade-wind clouds are far less sensitive to global warming than has long been assumed,” says Vogel. “With our new observations and findings, we can now directly test how realistically climate models portray the occurrence of trade-wind clouds.

“In this regard, a new generation of high-resolution climate models that can simulate the dynamics of clouds around the globe down to scales of one kilometer are particularly promising. Thanks to them, future projections will be more accurate and reliable.”
. . .
Whether clouds have a cooling or warming effect depends on how high they are. With a maximum altitude of two to three kilometers, the trade-wind clouds examined here are comparatively low, reflect sunlight, and cool the atmosphere in the process. In contrast, higher clouds amplify the greenhouse effect, warming the climate.

Full article here.
– – –
Study: Strong cloud–circulation coupling explains weak trade cumulus feedback
Quote: ‘Our findings thus refute an important line of evidence for a high climate sensitivity’.

  1. Bloke down the pub says:

    More research is needed, so it’s back to Barbados for a couple of weeks more observation. It’s a hard life being a climatologist.

  2. oldbrew says:

    Climate Models Can Never Work, Says Computer Modeller

    If you cannot make a model to predict the outcome of the next draw from a lottery ball machine, you are unable to make a model to predict the future of the climate, suggests former computer modeller Greg Chapman, in a recent essay in Quadrant. Chapman holds a PhD in physics and notes that the climate system is chaotic, which means “any model will be a poor predictor of the future”. A lottery ball machine, he observes, “is a comparatively much simpler and smaller interacting system”.

    Most climate models run hot, a polite term for endless failed predictions of runaway global warming.
    – – –
    But now they have a chance to correct some of their calculations. Will they take it?

    Study: ‘By not representing the variability in mesoscale circulations, the models miss an important process regulating trade cumulus clouds.’

  3. This was written:
    The observational data from Barbados now offers the first robust quantification as to how pronounced the vertical mixing actually is, and how this affects moisture and cloud cover as a whole. As such, it is the first data to shed light on a process that is essential to understanding climate change.

    Read that last sentence again:
    As such, it is the first data to shed light on a process that is essential to understanding climate change.

    As many have discovered, their alarmist theory is based on “NO” “DATA”.

    There was balloon data by John Christy, years ago that showed data that warming was not happening in the atmosphere where it was predicted by models.

    Ice core records from Greenland show that past warm periods were warmer than now, and the climate continued to cycle with cold periods after every warm period, never did a past warmer period go out of bounds in ten thousand years.

    That was only “ONE” additional piece of data that show that the theory and the models are worse than just wrong. The western countries have made themselves dependent on “OTHERS” for fuel, food, manufactured goods, most everything, in order to try to prevent something that does not happen, “MAN-MADE” “GREENHOUSE” “WARMING”.

  4. cognog2 says:

    Yes— Nail on the head here. Put even more simply its “buoyancy” that they have discovered👋👋👋👍.
    if they had just looked in their student text books they would have saved themselves a lot of time.
    Water VAPOR produced at evaporation is lighter than dry air; thus vertical movement independent of temperature difference as with convection.
    I won’t elaborate further here except to just suggest that these scientists start getting their heads out of their computers which are essentially dumb and begin looking at the basic science, where comprehension may be found.

  5. Water, in all of its changing states, does much to stabilize the climate. Warmer causes more evaporation and precipitation, more cooling storms. Polar warming promotes polar evaporation and snowfall and sequestering of ice. Ice Volumes grow during warmest times, ice core records show this, ice extent grows after many years of more ice accumulation, and changes in ice extent causes warming and cooling, history shows that the Vikings were pushed out of Greenland at the end of the Medieval Warm period and Greenland Ice Core Records show that ice accumulation was more during the Vikings stay in Greenland. Now, ice volumes are growing, even as many ice extents are still retreating, that is how it works. They are not adding leap seconds, in past decades, going back to 1972 when they started keeping track of time with extremely accurate Atomic Clocks, more leap seconds were added. This means the crust of the Earth is spinning faster, conservation of momentum shows that sea level has gone down and polar ice has grown for 50 years. With sea ice less than in the little ice age, there is more IR out from polar regions, but it is not making the climate colder, it is forming the ice that will advance and cause the climate to be colder later as more volume and weight increase the flow if the sequestered ice to be faster than the loss at the edges of ice sheets and tails of glaciers.
    Greenland Ice Core Records show that ice accumulation was less during the Little Ice Age, ice volumes depleted as the ice was flowing into the oceans and spread out causing colder. Years of lack of snowfall causes the ice to deplete and then retreat, this ice retreat brought climate out of the Little Ice Age and into this modern warm period. Go back even further, during the cold period between the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods, there was a colder time with sea ice covered Arctic, lack of snowfall in that cold period lead to the Medieval Warm Period, the Vikings were watching and they moved to Greenland as the ice was retreating a thousand years ago.

  6. catweazle666 says:

    The IPCC itself said climate models could never work back in 2001, oldbrew.
    Curiously nobody seems to have taken any notice of them.

    “In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

    So stated the IPCC’s Working Group I: The Scientific Basis, Third Assessment Report (TAR), Chapter 14 (final para.,, p774.
    El Niño and La Niña

  7. Ned Nikolov, Ph.D. says:

    Note these statements in the Abstract of the paper (

    The magnitude, variability and coupling of mixing and cloudiness differ markedly
    among climate models and with the EUREC4 A observations… Our observational analyses render models with large positive feedbacks implausible and both support and explain at the process scale a weak trade cumulus feedback. Our findings thus refute an important line of evidence for a high climate sensitivity.

    Researchers are coming close to the realization that strong positive feedbacks simulated by climate models are just UNREAL!

  8. Ned wrote: Researchers are coming close to the realization that strong positive feedbacks simulated by climate models are just UNREAL!

    Ned, most of them already know that but their funding, their very jobs, depend on them not acknowledging that! Therefore, they must be very careful when they cross the line.

  9. […] Clouds less climate-sensitive than assumed — Tallbloke’s Talkshop […]

  10. The climate system is “NOT” chaotic, it has followed regular alternating warm and cold periods for millions of years with evolving changes to bigger and bigger cycles with the last big cycle ending twenty thousand years ago and after ten thousand years of warming there have been more benign alternating warm and cold cycles for ten thousand years. There are internal factors that resonated with external forcing and that continues. People describe events as chaotic when they do not understand the causes, with understanding, chaos disappears. To explain lack of understanding of past events and current events and failed forecasts, they use chaos on the one hand and claim they understand what is going to happen next, on the other hand. You could figure, one or the other choice would be wrong. That is wrong, both choices are wrong.

  11. oldbrew says:

    “trade-wind clouds are far less sensitive to global warming than has long been assumed” — no settled science there.

  12. cognog2 says:

    What IS settled is that, taking into account what happens during the evaporation of ensures that WATER in the atmosphere as clouds provides a net NEGATIVE feedback to the GHE.
    The trouble is that many humans won’t accept that this is settled and get all het up turning Green in the face.

  13. Graeme No.3 says:

    And 70% of the Earth’s surface is water, and water is a powerful absorber of IR, so evaporation is the preferred transfer of energy to the atmosphere.
    The computer modellers have decided only radiation works. Could I say that they’ve let their assumption cloud their models?

  14. stpaulchuck says:

    “Consequently, they believe, extreme rise in Earth’s temperatures is less likely than previously thought.”

    it was NEVER likely, except in their total crap models that never actually modeled anything except science fiction. It’s like the 1.5 degrees, a totally fictional made-up number with no scientific basis.

  15. stpaulchuck says:

    popesclimatetheory says: December 1, 2022 at 6:19 pm
    “The climate system is “NOT” chaotic, …”

    apparently you are not familiar with Chaos Theory. Even the brighter lights at IPCC understand chaotic stochastic systems with strange attractors:

    “The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.” – IPCC TAR WG1, Working Group I: The Scientific Basis

  16. Ned Nikolov, Ph.D. says:


    An important distinction must be made here: “… the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible” not because the climate is chaotic, but because IPCC uses models based on the WRONG theory to predict it!

    When you are in the wrong paradigm of understanding, things tend to appear significantly more complex and “chaotic” than they actually are. We should always remember this truth!

  17. P.A.Semi says:

    This year there has been very warm autumn in Europe, particularly because there were more huge pressure lows in Atlantic blowing warm wind into Europe and toward Arctic…
    But it rather concentrated the cold air in the Arctic, and now there are two cold-spots of cca -40°C, which were not there two previous years at this date… The larger of them is above Greenland on American side, and let’s see, if it will blow down into America, or will be taken around Greenland into Europe…? (today it traveled little northward)

    December 1st compared 2020,2021,2022 in ECMWF data, processing mine:

    (vertical perspective centered 10°E, 60°N, it sees from North Africa to Alaska… blue is <0°C, light purple is around -40°C)

    Also, there is now a huge pressure high over Russia, which is unusual for this part of year, more often there is such in January or February, similar was in December 2020 somehow more south, no other such since at least 2015…


  18. P.A.Semi says:

    Another chart of interest in Climatology:

    January 1st distance of EMB from Sun, from JPL DE431 ephemerides:

    I assume, that Gregorian calendar tracks obliquity precession, meaning January is northern winter… The dents with 400-year period are leap year shifts…

    Disregarding fanciful theories like melitamegalitic claiming abrupt obliquity changes, but slow precession combined with eccentricity cycle shifts perihelium and aphelium over the year… Now we are near the best with perihelium on January 4 going forward in calendar, and it will get worse and worse until year 11724.
    The optimum in year 1272 coincides with Medieval Optimum, and previous maximum distance (worst cold in winter combined with aphelium) in -8858 (10878 before present) coincides with last Ice Age… Of cause there are other shorter cycles influencing this, including Maunder Minimum of Solar output coinciding with last Little Ice Age, and possibly others…

    The “chaotic” system is best modeled by averaging the typical chaos out and looking for general trends… It’s easier to predict a century ahead than month ahead, if the “influences” are properly weighted, and externals like volcanism and Sun assumed constant in multi-decade averages…


  19. P.A.Semi says:

    … and continuing the theory, that a Chaotic system can be “predicted” on long terms by averaging the high-frequency Chaos out and thereby getting low-frequency Trends, then comparing Climate with a Lottery is wrong…

    If you average a Lottery, you get a constant at center, because there is no low-frequency signal and only the white noise chaos… Instead, in Climate there are low-frequency signals, obscured by high-frequency chaos / noise…

    And then just a note about Volcanism – now there are reportedly two or three volcanoes erupting, including Mauna Loa, the largest volcano in Hawaii…
    I’ve seen at least two videos explaining, that volcanic haze will cause cooling this winter, and that there is largest snow extent at this part of year so far… Some levels of volcanic dust may cause warming, but larger levels cause cooling… In “Weather Prediction” we are interested in this high-frequency chaos, because it has much higher amplitude, than the low-frequency trends, that are of interest in Climatology, revealed only by averaging decades of data…


  20. oldbrew says:

    No big ash cloud from Mauna Loa…

    Mauna Loa is not exploding like Washington state’s Mount St. Helens did in 1980, killing 57 people. That eruption sent ash soaring over 80,000 feet (24,384 metres) and raining down as far as 250 miles (400 kilometres) away.

    The magma in Mount St. Helens tends to be stickier and traps more gas, making it much more likely to explode when it rises. It’s of a variety called composite volcanoes, which form concave cones.

    On the other hand…
    Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rates of approximately 180,000 tonnes per day (t/d) were measured on December 1, 2022.

  21. Adam Gallon says:

    Anybody would think there are negative feedbacks involved.

  22. P.A.Semi says:

    One of those videos titled “Volcanic Haze Begins to Block Sunlight Across the Planet”

    Is this mere fearmongering ?

  23. ivan says:

    Why don’t they come out and say what the really mean – they haven’t got a clue what the climate, weather, will do in the next few hours therefore they can’t predict what it will do at any time in the future. The UK met office used to produce a reasonably accurate shipping forecast but apparently not any longer.

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