Scientists will look at the clouds to predict climate change

A group of international scientists have received funding for a new project to better understand the clouds and their role in climate change. 

Trade-wind cumulus clouds play an important role in the Earth’s climate system, they can influence how heat is circulated and they can reflect sunlight away from the Earth’s surface.

The group of scientists will begin a five-week study in order to better understand the clouds and their role in climate change.

The team of scientists, which includes researchers from the University of Leeds, will measure the interactions between clouds, convection, atmospheric circulation and climate.

The campaign is part of the ‘Elucidating the Role of Clouds-Circulation Coupling in Climate’ (EURECFA) and involves more than 40 partner institutions, the deployment of five research aircraft, four research vessels and ground-based remote sensing.

Longer-term, the researchers hope that the findings will change the way that cloud processes are represented in climate models, the team are already working with the Met Office in the development of a new model for convective clouds processes.

Dr Leif Denby, from the school of earth and environment at the University of Leeds, said: ‘The effect of global warming on low-cloud in the trade wind regions are potentially a significant factor in the speed and intensity of the future of climate change.

‘So far, scientists have used climate models with theoretical representations of clouds to understand the role of clouds and convection in the climate systems and to predict how rising temperatures may affect cloud production and function.

‘The concurrent and diverse observations of this campaign will give us the means to verify which models and theories are correct.

‘We will be able to apply this new-found understanding of what’s happening to the low-clouds in trade-wind regions over the whole tropics.’

Alan Blyth, professor of atmospheric science at Leeds, said: ‘Currently, calculations of future global warming disagree by several degrees.

‘The largest cause of disagreements between predictions is the challenge of accurately representing the clouds in our climate systems.

‘This is an exciting opportunity for UK scientists to bring together their expertise to help resolve such an important piece of the climate change puzzle.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

 

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Pippa Neill

Pippa Neill

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