Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Eleanor Middlemas

Eleanor Middlemas will work with Jen Kay and Graham Feingold to study cloud radiative feedback in today’s changing world. Clouds cover Earth, and they reflect, absorb, and re-emit Earth’s incoming and outgoing radiation, altering the Earth’s energy budget. The clouds’ effect on the energy budget may change the sea surface temperature (SST), which could, in turn, change the clouds and their radiative effects, creating a cloud radiative feedback (CRF). CRF is the largest source of model disagreement in evaluating the response to increasing greenhouse gases (Vial et al. 2013). Meanwhile, the contribution of CRF to internal climate variations, or variations that are not a result of changing greenhouse gases, is largely overlooked. Middlemas will use NCAR’s Community Atmospheric Model, version 5 (CAM5) to determine the precise mechanism through which clouds could impact SST variability with a focus on the Southern Ocean. She hypothesizes that the ways CRF impact the global warming response are the same mechanisms through which CRF impacts climate variability or when the global warming response is not apparent.