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Environmental Science and Engineering Seminar

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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South Mudd 365
Clouds and the (extra-)tropical circulation response to climate change
Aiko Voigt, Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory | Ocean & Climate Physics, Columbia University | Earth Institute,

With rising levels of atmospheric CO2, projections of regional climate change are increasingly demanded by society. Yet, our confidence in such projections and our understanding of the underlying atmospheric circulation changes remains limited. I will report on recent work on the role of cloud-radiative interactions for regional climate and the atmospheric circulation of the tropics and extratropics. In the tropics, shifts of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) are strongly modulated by the radiative contrast between high and low clouds and its control on hemispheric differences in the atmospheric energy balance. This offers a way to improve climate models and to reduce model uncertainty in projections of tropical rainfall changes. In the extratropics, tropical and mid-latitude high clouds control the position of mid-latitude storm tracks and jet streams through their effect on meridional and vertical temperature gradients. These results highlight the need to better understand the radiative coupling between clouds and the circulation, as well as the benefits that such an understanding likely has to offer for regional climate projections.

For more information, please contact Kathy Young by phone at 626-395-8732 or by email at [email protected].