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EU Cloud Intercomparison, Process Study and Evaluation Project

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Clouds reveal the secrets of climate change

Clouds and cloud cover create uncertainty in climate models as their effects are difficult to quantify or predict. An EU-funded project has developed novel ways to measure clouds and their impact in order to overcome this uncertainty.

Climate Change and Environment

Recent studies of climate models have shown that clouds are introducing a large amount of uncertainty into Earth system models (ESMs), the most common climate change model. Without dependable cloud data, these models are vague and have low predictive power. This challenge was addressed by the EUCLIPSE (EU cloud intercomparison, process study and evaluation project) initiative. The study brought together meteorologists and climate modelling experts. Project partners aimed to improve modelled cloud behaviour by developing a way to measure the accuracy of cloud effects, thereby better defining the parameters of cloud processes in ESMs. Another part of the initiative focused on how clouds react to climate change in the physical world. EUCLIPSE demonstrated the importance of coupling different parameters, such as circulation and convection, convection and clouds, turbulence and convection, and clouds and radiation. Researchers also used a new cloud simulator for ESMs, which provided improved data for modelling, as well as new evaluation tools to check the output of these models. The use of a hierarchy of models showed how this hierarchy should be used in combination to solve important questions regarding climate science. EUCLIPSE also advanced the use of new diagnostic techniques to better link observations to modelling. In addition to training a new generation of climate scientists, EUCLIPSE has also increased knowledge of the role of clouds, circulation and climate, thereby enabling the impacts of climate change to be predicted more accurately.

Keywords

Climate change, clouds, climate models, cloud behaviour

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