Interactions between aerosols and liquid clouds are one of the largest sources of uncertainty in the historical radiative forcing of climate. One widely shared goal to reduce this uncertainty is to decompose radiative anomalies arising from aerosol-cloud interactions into components associated with changes in cloud-droplet number concentration (Twomey effect), liquid water path adjustments, and cloud-fraction adjustments. However, there has not been a quantitative foundation for simultaneously estimating all of these components with global satellite observations. Here we present a method for assessing shortwave radiative flux anomalies from the Twomey effect and cloud adjustments over ocean between 55°S and 55°N. We find that the Twomey effect and total cloud adjustment contribute -0.77 ± 0.25 W m-2 and -1.02 ± 0.43 W m-2, respectively, to the average effective radiative forcing since 1850 over the domain (95% confidence). Our findings reduce uncertainty in these components of aerosol forcing and suggest that cloud adjustments make a larger contribution to the forcing than is commonly believed.


Seminar by MISU, Department of Meteorology