Climate change kills clouds over the ocean in a new simulation – TechCrunch


We all know that climate change affects weather systems and ecosystems around the world, but the question of how and in what way is always the subject of extensive research. New simulations made possible by more powerful computers suggest that cloud cover over the oceans could disappear once a certain level of CO2 has been reached, which would accelerate warming and contribute to creating a vicious circle.

An article published in Nature details the new simulation, much more detailed, of the formation of clouds and the effects of solar radiation on it. The researchers, from the California Institute of Technology, explain that previous simulation techniques were not granular enough to solve the effects occurring at the meter scale rather than the kilometer scale.

These global climate models seem particularly difficult to predict stratocumulus clouds flying over the sea – and this is a big problem, they noted:

Stratocumulus clouds cover 20% of tropical oceans and critically affect the Earth's energy balance (they reflect between 30 and 60% of the short wave radiation that reaches them in space1), with problems simulating their reaction climate change is reflected in the global climate response.

A more precise and accurate simulation of clouds was needed to determine the potential effects of increased temperatures and greenhouse gas concentrations. This is something that technology can help.

Thanks to "advances in high-performance computing and high-speed cloud (LES) simulation," researchers have been able to "faithfully reproduce the statistically stable states of stratocumulus-dominated boundary layers in restricted areas." "case", the 5 × 5 km area simulated in detail.

Improved simulations showed something uncomfortable: when CO2 concentrations reached about 1,200 parts per million, this caused a sudden collapse of cloud formation, with cloud-top cooling being disrupted by excessive incoming radiation. Result (as you can see at the top): Clouds do not form as easily, allowing more sun to penetrate, further aggravating the heating problem. The process could contribute up to 8 or 10 degrees to warming in the subtropical regions.

Of course, there are some caveats: simulations are just simulations, although this one predicts current conditions well and seems to accurately reflect the many processes underway in these cloud systems (and remember you: an inherent mistake could be against us rather than for us). And we are still far from 1200 PPM; current NOAA measurements place it at 411 – but steadily increases.

So, it would take decades before this happens, although once it is done, it would be catastrophic and probably irreversible.

In addition, major climatic events such as volcanoes may temporarily but violently change these measures, as was the case previously; Earth has already experienced such sudden jumps in temperature and CO2, and the feedback loop of cloud loss and resulting warming could help explain that. (Quanta has an excellent article with more context and background if you're interested.)

Researchers are calling for more investigation into the possibility of stratocumulus instability, filling in the gaps that they had to estimate in their model. The higher the number of brains (and GPU clusters) on the enclosure, the better the idea we will have of how climate change will occur in specific weather systems like this one.

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