Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Departmental Seminar Series
The tropopause perspective in climate modelling: why cloud heights really matter
a talk by
Prof. Roger Davies
Professor of Climate Physics
Department of Physics, The University of Auckland, NewZealand
The MISR instrument on the Terra satellite has been measuring cloud heights since early 2000, creating a unique climate data record of over 19 years duration that is useful for a variety of regional climate studies. But why should cloud heights be of any interest to studies of global climate or climate change?
Explanations of the greenhouse effect on surface temperature often have a surface perspective and focus on total longwave opacity (which is not dependent on cloud height). If we invert the conventional approach to adopt a tropospheric perspective, we can directly answer the cloud height question. Perhaps surprisingly, we also discover that water vapour is not as powerful a greenhouse gas as we might have expected.