Clouds, weather, and climate

Clouds modulate the flows of energy through the climate system, shaping everything from precipitation to circulations at all scales. We are primarily interested in shallow clouds -- those in which ice doesn't form -- because they have a profound impact on climate.  

We participated in the ATOMIC and EUREC4A field campaigns held in early 2020 near the island of Barbados in the Atlantic Ocean to study scattered shallow clouds. 

Xuanyu Chen's postdoctoral work (co-supervised with Juliana Dias and Brandon Holding) examined how clouds responds to small-scale increases in sea surface temperature, which are much more frequent than was appreciated. Xuanyu  is now using large-eddy simulations to understand the mechanisms driving the cloud response. 

  • Chen, X. et al., 2023: Ubiquitous sea surface temperature warm anomalies increase spatial heterogeneity of trade-wind cloudiness on daily timescales. J. Atmos. Sci., 80, 2969-2987, doi:10.1175/JAS-D-23-0075.1 (with collaborators at NOAA Physical Sciences Lab) 

After participating in EUREC4A Ben Fildier (working primarily with Caroline Muller) discovered why radiative cooling peaks so dramatically at the top of the cloud layer even when clouds are rare:

  • Fildier, B., C. Muller, R. Pincus, and S. Fueglistaler, 2023: How moisture shapes low-level radiative cooling in subsidence regimes. AGU Advances, 4, e2023AV000880, doi:10.1029/2023AV000880 (with collaborators at  CNRS, France;l ISTA, Austria; and Princeton)