The daily cloud cycle (DCC) and its response to global warming are critical to the Earth’s energy budget, but their radiative effects have not been systematically quantified. Toward this goal, here we analyze the radiation at the top of the atmosphere and propose a measure of the DCC radiative effect (DCCRE) as the difference between the total radiative fluxes with the full cloud cycle and its uniformly distributed cloud counterpart. We apply it to the cloud fraction from four climate models that participated in the second phase of the Cloud Feedback Model Inter-comparison Project. The results allow us to objectively compare inter-model differences in the daily cycle of cloud fraction and their influences on the global energy balance. In particular, the spatial patterns of the DCC response to global warming obtained in our analysis suggest possible impacts on large-scale circulation. Such a framework can be used for conducting a more systematic evaluation of the DCC in climate models and observations with the goal to reduce uncertainty in climate projections.
Yin, Jun, and Amilcare Porporato (2018): Radiative effects of daily cloud cycle: general methodology and application to cloud fraction. arXiv:1803.01742.
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.