January 31, 2019
Title: The Effect of Different Cloud Classes on Earth's Radiation Budget
NASA-GSFC, Climate and Radiation Lab
The effect of clouds on the Earth's radiation budget is often summarized as "low clouds cool and high clouds warm" which is generally true when referring to the planet as a whole on an annual basis, but also not nearly sufficient for fully understanding the radiative impacts of clouds on the Earth's climate. First of all, how are "low" and "high" clouds defined? Is the above statement true for all regions and seasons? What about when the impact is examined with respect to the surface and the atmospheric column? I will provide answers to these and many other questions by taking advantage of contemporary satellite observations of clouds and radiative fluxes supplemented by radiative transfer calculations. I will examine whether cloud classifications based on different concepts and types of observations converge to the same fundamental understanding of how clouds affect the planet's radiation budget in the current climate.