Journal or chapter

The Southern Ocean Radiative Bias, Cloud Compensating Errors, and Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity in CMIP6 Models

Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) models are analyzed using an established cloud clustering methodology. This enables a comparison of cloud representation in models and observations. The simulation of stratocumulus clouds over the Southern Ocean is shown to have changed substantially from earlier generation models. The CMIP6 models analyzed show stratocumulus clouds now occur more often in simulations than in International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) observations, but are not bright enough compared to Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) data. This is in contrast to the “too few, too bright” problem, which has characterized prior model simulations of stratocumulus clouds, particularly over the Southern Ocean. The cloud clusters also enable the calculation of mean and compensating shortwave cloud radiative effect (SW CRE) errors from model data. The compensating errors are shown to be much larger than mean errors suggesting the CMIP6 models still have much to improve in their cloud representation. A statistically significant negative relationship between the mean and compensating errors in SW CRE over the Southern Ocean is identified. This relationship is observed elsewhere, but is only significant over the Southern Ocean. This implies model tuning efforts are hiding biases in the representation of clouds in this region. CMIP6 models have been shown to have a higher equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) relative to CMIP5 simulations. The link between ECS and SW CRE mean and compensating errors is investigated but no evidence of a relationship between these variables was found.


Observing cloud and aerosol interactions