Journal Highlights

How Do Clouds React to Regional Warming?

Research Spotlight—

Researchers illuminate how and why cloud feedbacks depend on spatial patterns of global warming.

Clouds play an important role in Earth’s global climate, both by reflecting the Sun’s radiation back out into space and by holding in thermal radiation. The extent to which clouds affect climate, however, depends on the amount, height, and opacity of the clouds.

Generally, low-level clouds reflect a lot of solar radiation but trap almost no thermal radiation, so they cool the climate. Higher-up, wispy cirrus clouds trap more thermal radiation than whatever solar radiation they reflect back out, whereas thicker clouds reflect at least as much solar radiation as whatever thermal radiation they hold in, such that high-level clouds can either warm or cool the climate system....more

-- Sarah Witman, Freelance Writer,