Do low-lying clouds have an effect on global climate?
Bruce Albrecht, professor of atmospheric sciences at the UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Miami, Florida claims that low clouds are extremely important to climate systems because stratocumulus and cumulus clouds both reflect solar radiation back into space, they provide the primary cooling of our planet. The research flight took off on July 1 from Sacramento aboard the state-of-the-art National Science Foundation (NSF) Gulfstream V research aircraft is getting the needed data to better understand cloud structure, aerosols, and precipitation which will tell us more about the role these clouds have on the global climate system. The project, “The Cloud Systems Evolution in the Trades (CSET),” will end August 15.
“Our preliminary data are already revealing that aerosol-depleted environments are much more common than previously thought, changing textbook ideas on the low cloud lifecycle,” said Paquita Zuidema, professor of atmospheric sciences at the UM Rosenstiel School and co-investigator of the study. The project scheduled 14 flights to sample the trade wind-driven clouds as they move across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii. In the last two months researchers focused on stratocumulus and cumulus clouds changing shape in the trade winds. The same cloud areas were sampled again when the aircraft returned to California from Hawaii two days later. The research data also hopes to shed light on how cloud coverage changes as the planet warms.