Decadal Variability of Clouds and its Contributions to Global Warming Hiatus

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Monday, 5 January 2015: 4:45 PM
122BC (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Hui Su, JPL, Pasadena, CA; and J. Jiang, T. P. J. Shen, and Y. Yung

An apparent climate regime shift occurred around 1998/1999, when the steady increase of global-mean surface temperature appeared to hit a hiatus. Coherent decadal variations are found in atmospheric circulation and hydrological cycles. Using 30-year cloud observations from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project, we examine the decadal variability of clouds and associated cloud radiative effects on surface warming. Empirical Orthogonal Function analysis is performed. After removing the seasonal cycle and ENSO signal in the 30-year data, we find that the leading EOF modes clearly represent a decadal variability in cloud fraction, well correlated with the indices of Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). The cloud radiative effects associated with decadal variations of clouds suggest a positive cloud feedback, which would reinforce the global warming hiatus by a net cloud cooling after 1998/1999. Climate model simulations driven by observed sea surface temperature are compared with satellite observed cloud decadal variability.