Boundary Layer Clouds and Convection over Subtropical Oceans in our Current and in a Warmer Climate

Louise Nuijens*, A. Pier Siebesma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
155 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose of Review: We review our understanding of mechanisms underlying the response of (sub)tropical clouds to global warming, highlight mechanisms that challenge our understanding, and discuss simulation strategies that tackle them. Recent Findings: Turbulence-resolving models and emergent constraints provide probable evidence, supported by theoretical understanding, that the cooling cloud radiative effect (CRE) of low clouds weakens with warming: a positive low-cloud feedback. Nevertheless, an uncertainty in the feedback remains. Climate models may not adequately represent changing SST and circulation patterns, which determine future cloud-controlling factors and how these couple to clouds. Furthermore, we do not understand what mesoscale organization implies for the CRE, and how moisture-radiation interactions, horizontal advection, and the profile of wind regulate low cloud, in our current and in our warmer climate. Summary: Clouds in nature are more complex than the idealized cloud types that have informed our understanding of the cloud feedback. Remaining major uncertainties are the coupling of clouds to large-scale circulations and to the ocean, and mesoscale aggregation of clouds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-94
Number of pages15
JournalCurrent Climate Change Reports
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Atmosphere-ocean coupling
  • Cloud-circulation coupling
  • Emergent constraints
  • Low-cloud feedback
  • Mesoscale aggregation
  • Moisture-radiation interactions
  • Turbulence-resolving models


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