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Surface Albedo Feedback in Eleven CMIP3 Climate Models

Crook, J.A. and Forster, P.M. 2014. Comparison of surface albedo feedback in climate models and observations. Geophysical Research Letters 41: 1717-1723.
According to Crook and Forster (2014), "snow and ice albedo feedback plays an important role in the greater warming of the Arctic compared to the tropics." But they say "there have been no estimates of surface albedo feedback from observations globally." Thus, in an attempt to expand the area of coverage of this phenomenon, the two researchers set out to "estimate observed surface albedo feedback, extending coverage to the Southern Hemisphere and non-cryosphere regions," in an attempt to ascertain "whether the seasonal cycle can be used to estimate climate change feedback in regions other than Northern Hemisphere extra-tropical land."

In discussing their findings, the two UK researchers report that (1) the "hemisphere extra-tropical feedback is considerably higher for observations (potentially 3.1 ± 1.3 W/m2/K) than for models (0.4-1.2 W/m2/K)," that (2) the "models underestimate the Northern Hemisphere extratropical climate change feedback," and that (3) "in Antarctica the climate change feedback is negative in observations and positive in models."

In light of their several findings, Crook and Foster conclude - in the Conclusions section of their paper - that "understanding reasons for the low Northern Hemisphere extra-tropical climate change feedback for both land and sea in the current generation of climate models should be a priority," which clearly indicates the models are not yet at the point where their output can be given much credence when it comes to surface albedo feedback.

Archived 23 July 2014