Climate change

Climate change (warming) appears to be shifting Earth’s clouds toward the poles — as well as boosting cloud tops higher — meaning that mid latitudes are probably getting drier — as climate models predict

© 2016 Peter Free

Citation — to press release

Alexandra Witze, Clouds get high on climate change, Nature | News, DOI: 10.1038/nature.2016.20230 (11 July 2016)

Pattern of Earth’s cloud cover is apparently changing

After purging “degraded” sensor data and “misleading” information from two sets of cloud cover databases:

An analysis of satellite data has found that, since the early 1980s, clouds have shifted towards Earth’s poles and cloud tops have extended higher into the atmosphere.

The changes match what climate models predict and are a rare step forward among much scientific uncertainty about how clouds will behave in a warming world.

If models really are starting to get clouds correct, it suggests that the planet may warm on the higher end of estimates over the coming century, he says.

Researchers [still] need to dig a little more to tease out the relative roles of greenhouse gases and volcanoes, [Katherine] Marvel [at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies] says.

© 2016 Alexandra Witze, Clouds get high on climate change, Nature | News, DOI: 10.1038/nature.2016.20230 (11 July 2016) (extracts)

Caveat

Questions obviously arise regarding how the researchers decided what was “misleading” or “degraded” information. Data selection on these grounds could skew results, unless methodologically justified and accurately reflective of physical phenomena.

The moral? — Common sense suspects that cloud patterns probably are changing

Dump a bunch of heat into a system like Earth’s, and one would think that its dynamic activities would alter in (at least some) detectible ways.