Tropical average shortwave cloud radiative effect (SWCRE) anomalies observed by CERES/EBAF v4 are explained by observed average sea surface temperature ((Formula presented.)) and the difference between the warmest 30% where deep convection occurs and (Formula presented.)). Observed tropospheric temperatures show variations in boundary layer capping strength over time consistent with the evolution of SST#. The CERES/EBAF v4 data confirm that associated cloud fraction changes over the colder waters dominate SWCRE. This observational evidence for the “pattern effect” noted in General Circulation Model simulations suggests that SST# captures much of this effect. The observed sensitivities (dSWCRE/d (Formula presented.) W·m−2·K−1, dSWCRE/dSST#≈−4.8W·m−2·K−1) largely reflect El Niño–Southern Oscillation. As El Niño develops, (Formula presented.) increases and SST# decreases (both increasing SWCRE). Only after the El Niño peak, SST# increases and SWCRE decreases. SST# is also relevant for the tropical temperature trend profile controversy and the discrepancy between observed and modeled equatorial Pacific SST trends. Causality and implications for future climates are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
- climate sensitivity
- cloud albedo
- sea surface temperatures
- tropical convection