Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 621-634, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
19 Jan 2018
Response to marine cloud brightening in a multi-model ensemble
Camilla W. Stjern1,2, Helene Muri2, Lars Ahlm2,3,4, Olivier Boucher5, Jason N. S. Cole6, Duoying Ji7, Andy Jones8, Jim Haywood8, Ben Kravitz9, Andrew Lenton10, John C. Moore7,11,12, Ulrike Niemeier13, Steven J. Phipps14, Hauke Schmidt13, Shingo Watanabe15, and Jón Egill Kristjánsson2,† 1CICERO Center for International Climate and Environmental Research Oslo, Oslo, Norway
2Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
3Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
4Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
5Laboratoire de météorologie dynamique, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France
6Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Victoria, Canada
7College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China
8Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, UK
9Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change Division, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, USA
10CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Hobart, Australia
11Joint Center for Global Change Studies, Beijing, 100875, China
12Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, P.O. Box 122, 96101 Rovaniemi, Finland
13Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
14Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia
15Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Yokohama, Japan
Abstract. Here we show results from Earth system model simulations from the marine cloud brightening experiment G4cdnc of the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP). The nine contributing models prescribe a 50 % increase in the cloud droplet number concentration (CDNC) of low clouds over the global oceans in an experiment dubbed G4cdnc, with the purpose of counteracting the radiative forcing due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases under the RCP4.5 scenario. The model ensemble median effective radiative forcing (ERF) amounts to −1.9 W m−2, with a substantial inter-model spread of −0.6 to −2.5 W m−2. The large spread is partly related to the considerable differences in clouds and their representation between the models, with an underestimation of low clouds in several of the models. All models predict a statistically significant temperature decrease with a median of (for years 2020–2069) −0.96 [−0.17 to −1.21] K relative to the RCP4.5 scenario, with particularly strong cooling over low-latitude continents. Globally averaged there is a weak but significant precipitation decrease of −2.35 [−0.57 to −2.96] % due to a colder climate, but at low latitudes there is a 1.19 % increase over land. This increase is part of a circulation change where a strong negative top-of-atmosphere (TOA) shortwave forcing over subtropical oceans, caused by increased albedo associated with the increasing CDNC, is compensated for by rising motion and positive TOA longwave signals over adjacent land regions.

Citation: Stjern, C. W., Muri, H., Ahlm, L., Boucher, O., Cole, J. N. S., Ji, D., Jones, A., Haywood, J., Kravitz, B., Lenton, A., Moore, J. C., Niemeier, U., Phipps, S. J., Schmidt, H., Watanabe, S., and Kristjánsson, J. E.: Response to marine cloud brightening in a multi-model ensemble, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 621-634,, 2018.
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Marine cloud brightening (MCB) has been proposed to help limit global warming. We present here the first multi-model assessment of idealized MCB simulations from the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project. While all models predict a global cooling as intended, there is considerable spread between the models both in terms of radiative forcing and the climate response, largely linked to the substantial differences in the models' representation of clouds.
Marine cloud brightening (MCB) has been proposed to help limit global warming. We present here...