Cloud radiative forcing intercomparison between fully coupled CMIP5 models and CERES satellite data
Abstract. In this paper, radiative fluxes for 10 years from 11 models participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) and from CERES satellite observations have been analyzed and compared. Under present-day conditions, the majority of the investigated CMIP5 models show a tendency towards a too-negative global mean net cloud radiative forcing (NetCRF) as compared to CERES. A separate inspection of the long-wave and shortwave contribution (LWCRF and SWCRF) as well as cloud cover points to different shortcomings in different models. Models with a similar NetCRF still differ in their SWCRF and LWCRF and/or cloud cover. Zonal means mostly show excessive SWCRF (too much cooling) in the tropics between 20° S and 20° N and in the midlatitudes between 40 to 60° S. Most of the models show a too-small/too-weak LWCRF (too little warming) in the subtropics (20 to 40° S and N). Difference maps between CERES and the models identify the tropical Pacific Ocean as an area of major discrepancies in both SWCRF and LWCRF. The summer hemisphere is found to pose a bigger challenge for the SWCRF than the winter hemisphere. The results suggest error compensation to occur between LWCRF and SWCRF, but also when taking zonal and/or annual means. Uncertainties in the cloud radiative forcing are thus still present in current models used in CMIP5.