Report

A Determination of the Cloud Feedback from Climate Variations over the Past Decade

Science  10 Dec 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6010, pp. 1523-1527
DOI: 10.1126/science.1192546

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Abstract

Estimates of Earth's climate sensitivity are uncertain, largely because of uncertainty in the long-term cloud feedback. I estimated the magnitude of the cloud feedback in response to short-term climate variations by analyzing the top-of-atmosphere radiation budget from March 2000 to February 2010. Over this period, the short-term cloud feedback had a magnitude of 0.54 ± 0.74 (2σ) watts per square meter per kelvin, meaning that it is likely positive. A small negative feedback is possible, but one large enough to cancel the climate’s positive feedbacks is not supported by these observations. Both long- and short-wave components of short-term cloud feedback are also likely positive. Calculations of short-term cloud feedback in climate models yield a similar feedback. I find no correlation in the models between the short- and long-term cloud feedbacks.

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