09 Feb 2024
 | 09 Feb 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Present-day correlations insufficient to constrain cloud albedo change by anthropogenic aerosols in E3SM v2

Naser Mahfouz, Johannes Mülmenstädt, and Susannah Burrows

Abstract. Cloud albedo susceptibility to droplet number perturbation remains a source of uncertainty in understanding aerosol– cloud interactions, and thus climate states both past and present. Through E3SM v2 experiments, we probe the effects of competing parameterized processes on cloud albedo susceptibility of low-lying marine stratocumulus in the Northeast Pacific. In present-day conditions, we find that increasing precipitation suppression by aerosols increases cloud albedo susceptibility, whereas increasing cloud sedimentation decreases it. By constructing a hypothetical model configuration exhibiting negative susceptibility under all conditions, we conclude that cloud albedo change due to aerosol perturbation cannot be constrained by present-day co-variabilities in E3SM v2. As such, our null result herein challenges the assumption that present-day climate observations are sufficient to constrain past states, at least in the context of cloud albedo changes to aerosol perturbation.

Naser Mahfouz, Johannes Mülmenstädt, and Susannah Burrows

Status: open (until 22 Mar 2024)

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Naser Mahfouz, Johannes Mülmenstädt, and Susannah Burrows
Naser Mahfouz, Johannes Mülmenstädt, and Susannah Burrows


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Short summary
Climate models are our primary tool to probe past, present, and future climate states unlike the more recent observation record. By carefully constructing a hypothetical model configuration, we show that present-day correlations are not sufficient to constrain a persistent uncertainty in climate modeling (how much sun clouds will reflect because in a changing climate). Our result will hopefully initiate a scholarly conversation to better utilize observations to constrain climate uncertainties.