J7.1 The Future of Radiation Budget Observations for Climate Change (Invited Presentation)

Tuesday, 8 July 2014: 8:30 AM
Essex North (Westin Copley Place)
Bruce A. Wielicki, LRC, Hampton, VA

Handout (9.1 MB)

Tony Slingo would attack climate research from the “big picture”, often using broadband radiation budget data to “stress test” our understanding of climate models, including both their strengths and weaknesses. This paper will follow in that tradition and consider the future of radiation budget observations, especially as pertains to reducing uncertainties in anthropogenic climate change predictions. The heart of this challenge lies in formulating hypotheses to test climate models with observations in such a way that we can narrow key uncertainties such as cloud feedback and therefore climate sensitivity. The current factor of 4 uncertainty in climate sensitivity at 90% confidence leads to a factor of 16 uncertainty in the economic impacts of climate change, leading to great uncertainty in societal responses. Cloud feedback and its uncertainties was one of the key areas of research that Tony Slingo attacked in his career. This paper will discuss the future potential improvements of such observations and their ability to improve tests of climate models. The observations include a lengthening climate record of CERES-like global observations (currently 14 years) and new higher accuracy SI traceable spectrometer calibration systems like CLARREO and TRUTHS that cover the entire broadband and can act as in-orbit reference calibration to greatly improve the accuracy of future CERES or CERES-like global broadband observations used to observe cloud feedback components.
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