Kate Marvel on clouds

Although we are confident that adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere will cause the planet to warm, exactly how much we will warm is uncertain (the IPCC likely range for a doubling of atmospheric CO2 is 1.5oC to 4.5oC). A major reason for this uncertainty is that we don’t know what clouds will do as we warm. Low level clouds act to reflect incoming solar radiation, cooling the planet. High-level clouds are very cold and hence radiate very little energy into space, but block some of the radiation coming from the surface; they act to heat the planet.

Therefore, estimating how much we will warm requires understanding how low-level and high-level clouds will change. It’s possible that these changes could act to reduce how much we warm (cloud feedbacks could be negative). Alternatively, these changes could amplify the warming (cloud feedbacks could be positive). Do we have some idea of what is likely? Yes, we do, but rather than me telling you what it is, you could watch Kate Marvel’s recent TED talk. Kate explains it much better than I possibly could.

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8 Responses to Kate Marvel on clouds

  1. John Hartz says:

    Also read the recent interview of Kate Marvel by Diane Toomey of Yale Environment 360…

    Investigating the Enigma of Clouds and Climate Change</strong by Diane Toomey, Yale Environment 360, Aug 17, 2017

  2. T-rev says:

    I am also wary of the “buy us more time” line being seen as a euphemism for “lets me keep emitting prodigiously”

  3. CCHolley says:

    “Can clouds buy us more time to solve climate change?

    You can be wary of the “buy us more time” line but if you actually watch the TED Talk you will see that this is just the hook for what turns out to be a very powerful and well done message.

  4. if you actually watch the TED Talk you will see that this is just the hook for what turns out to be a very powerful and well done message.

    Indeed. I had also initially wondered if the “buy us more time” line was sending a message that we can delay action, but that’s not the message in the talk, which is very well done.

  5. As TED talks go I think it’s great. Honest, passionate and based on facts. Love the whisky joke a the end. – I may steal that – but of course I’ll cite Kate!

  6. JCH says:

    I did not like the video. Too much bait; not enough hook.

  7. izen says:

    @-JCH
    “I did not like the video.”

    I agree.
    Too many ‘jokes’, preaching to the choir.

  8. BBD says:

    Punchline: equatorial cloud is migrating polewards and high altitude cloud is getting higher. Both increase cloud positive feedback. So no good news for lukewarmers there. Just as one would expect, since cloud negative feedback would show up in palaeoclimate behaviour (muting response to forcing change) and it doesn’t.

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