How does the changing general circulation affect observed cloud types?

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Paul Staten, NASA JPL/Caltech, Pasadena, CA; and B. Kahn and T. Reichler

While estimates of the effects of clouds on a changing climate vary widely on a global scale, simulations and observations more robustly predict certain changes in cloud type and distribution on regional scales. Specifically, poleward shifts in cloud patterns coincide with shifts in the Southern Hemisphere jet. But artifacts in existing observational cloud records hamper the quantification of such trends. Here we present progress towards the construction of a gridded cloud-type record from NOAA polar orbiter data, and the examination of changes in cloud type and distribution over recent decades. We further relate these trends to changes in the general circulation seen in observations and reanalyses. These results help to isolate a portion of the global cloud feedback, and aid in evaluating and constraining modeled cloud feedbacks.