The Influence of Atmospheric Cloud Radiative Effects on the Large-Scale Atmospheric Circulation

Ying Li, David W. J. Thompson, Sandrine Bony

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58 Citations (Scopus)


The influence of clouds on the large-scale atmospheric circulation is examined in numerical simulations from an atmospheric general circulation model run with and without atmospheric cloud radiative effects (ACRE). In the extratropics of both hemispheres, the primary impacts of ACRE on the circulation include 1) increases in the meridional temperature gradient and decreases in static stability in the midlatitude upper troposphere, 2) strengthening of the midlatitude jet, 3) increases in extratropical eddy kinetic energy by up to 30%, and 4) increases in precipitation at middle latitudes but decreases at subtropical latitudes. In the tropics, the primary impacts of ACRE include 1) eastward wind anomalies in the tropical upper troposphere–lower stratosphere (UTLS) and 2) reductions in tropical precipitation. The impacts of ACRE on the atmospheric circulation are interpreted in the context of a series of dynamical and physical processes. The changes in the extratropical circulation and precipitation are consistent with the influence of ACRE on the baroclinicity and eddy fluxes of momentum in the extratropical upper troposphere, the changes in the zonal wind in the UTLS with the influence of ACRE on the amplitude of the equatorial planetary waves, and the changes in the tropical precipitation with the energetic constraints on the tropical troposphere. The results make clear that ACRE have a pronounced influence on the atmospheric circulation not only at tropical latitudes, but at extratropical latitudes as well. They highlight the critical importance of correctly simulating ACRE in global climate models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7263–7278
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2015

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