3 years ago

The Potential of a Multidecade Spaceborne Lidar Record to Constrain Cloud Feedback

Synthetic multidecadal spaceborne lidar records are used to examine when a cloud response to anthropogenic forcing would be detectable from spaceborne lidar observations. The synthetic records are generated using long‐term cloud changes predicted by two Coupled Model Intercomparison Program 5 models seen through the COSP/lidar (CFMIP, Cloud Feedback Model Intercomparison Project, Observation Simulators Package) and cloud interannual variability observed by the CALIPSO (Cloud Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations) spaceborne lidar during the past decade. CALIPSO observations do not show any significant trend yet. Our analysis of the synthetic time series suggests that the tropical cloud longwave feedback and the Southern Ocean cloud shortwave feedback might be constrained with 70% confidence with, respectively, a 20‐year and 29‐year uninterrupted lidar‐in‐space record. A 27‐year record might be needed to separate the two different model predictions in the tropical subsidence clouds. Assuming that combining the CALIPSO and Earth‐CARE (Earth Clouds, Aerosols and Radiation Explorer) missions will lead to a spaceborne lidar record of at least 16 years, we examine the impact of gaps and calibration offsets between successive missions. A 2‐year gap between Earth‐CARE and the following spaceborne lidar would have no significant impact on the capability to constrain the cloud feedback if all the space lidars were perfectly intercalibrated. Any intercalibration shift between successive lidar missions would delay the capability to constrain the cloud feedback mechanisms, larger shifts leading to longer delays.

Publisher URL: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/2017JD027742

DOI: 10.1002/2017JD027742

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