On the Causal Relationship Between the Moist Diabatic Circulation and Cloud Rapid Adjustment to Increasing CO2

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

General circulation models predict that clouds in the atmosphere rapidly adjust to the radiative perturbation of an abrupt increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration on a short time scale of about 10 days. This rapid adjustment consists of an increase of clouds in the boundary layer and a decrease of clouds in the free troposphere. Our focus is the mechanism for the decrease of clouds in the free troposphere, which is the dominating component of cloud rapid adjustment in most general circulation models. We propose that the decrease in clouds in the free troposphere arises from the causal relationship between the moist diabatic circulation and the production of condensates that forms clouds in moist processes. As CO2 concentration increases, tropospheric radiative cooling is reduced, resulting in weakening of the moist diabatic circulation and a decrease in precipitation. As the hydrologic cycle weakens and the moist processes involving phase change of water vapor to form the condensates in the atmosphere lessen, the mass of cloud condensates decreases. This decrease in cloud condensates can be predicted from the decrease in the radiative subsidence mass flux, which is a metric for the strength of the moist diabatic circulation in the free troposphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3836-3851
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
Volume11
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Keywords

  • circulation
  • clouds
  • hydrologic cycle
  • precipitation
  • radiative forcing
  • rapid adjustment

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