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The Role of Thermodynamic Phase Shifts in Cloud Optical Depth Variations With...

Tan, I., L. Oreopoulos, and N. Cho (2019), The Role of Thermodynamic Phase Shifts in Cloud Optical Depth Variations With Temperature, Geophys. Res. Lett., 46, 4502-4511, doi:10.1029/2018GL081590.
Abstract: 

We present a novel method that identifies the contributions of thermodynamic phase shifts and processes governing supercooled liquid and ice clouds to cloud optical depth variations with temperature using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer observations. Our findings suggest that thermodynamic phase shifts outweigh the net influence of processes governing supercooled liquid and ice clouds in causing increases in midlatitudinal cold cloud optical depth with temperature. Cloud regime analysis suggests that dynamical conditions appear to have little influence on the contribution of thermodynamic phase shifts to cloud optical depth variations with temperature. Thermodynamic phase shifts also contribute more to increases in cloud optical depth during colder seasons due to the enhanced optical thickness contrast between liquid and ice clouds. The results of this study highlight the importance of thermodynamic phase shifts in explaining cold cloud optical depth increases with temperature in the current climate and may elucidate their role in the cloud optical depth feedback.

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Research Program: 
Radiation Science Program (RSP)
Climate Variability and Change Program