Learn how plants respond to higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations

How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

Click to locate material archived on our website by topic

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.

The authors write that "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."

What was done
In an attempt to expand the area of coverage of this phenomenon, in the words of Crook and Forster, they "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."

What was learned
The two UK researchers say they found 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."

What it means
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 that we are not yet at the point where the output of the studied models can be given much credence when it comes to surface albedo feedback.

Reviewed 16 July 2014