GFDL - Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

Role of clouds in equatorial Pacific climate

The equatorial Pacific plays a key role in regulating the Earth’s climate by affecting global surface air temperature trend, variability, and weather extremes. Despite its climatic importance, simulations of tropical Pacific mean climate and variability remain unsatisfactory. Convection and clouds are inherent players in the system and may be key in shaping the climatology and variability of the equatorial Pacific. Deficiencies in representation of convection and clouds are likely among the root causes in long-standing GCM biases in equatorial Pacific such as¬†the narrow cold SST biases along the equator and the double ITCZ problems. We are currently exploring the sensitivity of simulated equatorial climate to detailed processes in¬†convection and clouds¬†parameterization with a goal towards better understanding of the relevant processes and systematic model bias reduction. This project will also help us to better understand future climate change in both the equatorial Pacific and around the globe