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Atmospheric Sciences & Global Change Division
Research Highlights

March 2008

Forecast: Cloudy and Hot

Cloud water is hot—a hot paper, that is. An article about the need for accurate information about cloud water for predicting climate change was ranked as a "hot paper" by ISI's Essential Science Indicators. Every two months, ISI lists the "hot papers in science," those that have been cited repeatedly in their fields within two years of publication. On the March 2008 list, the article, "Thin liquid water clouds: Their importance and our challenge," was cited eight times in geosciences literature since it was published in February 2007.  It is unusual for a paper to rise to this level in such a short time; most papers take two to four years to reach their citation peak.

Clouds significantly affect the Earth's energy balance, yet the details of cloud properties are still among the largest unknowns in computer models that simulate climate change. Using data from the U.S. Department of Energy's DOE Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program and other sources, the authors highlight the advancements in remotely observing small amounts of liquid water in clouds. They issue a "rallying cry" to the research community to reexamine the accuracy of their data retrieval methods for these cloud types, including the need for better field measurements.

Water clouds
Four different methods were used to retrieve liquid water amounts for the same cloud. The authors argue that the wide disparity in the resulting values indicates the need for the research community to examine the accuracy of its retrieval algorithms for thin water clouds. Enlarged View

The paper was written by scientists from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Argonne National Laboratory; AS&M; Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc.; Brookhaven National Laboratory; Colorado Sate University; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; NASA Langley Research Center; NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory; State University of New York at Albany; and the Universities of California at Santa Barbara, Colorado, Maryland, Wisconsin, Wyoming.  The PNNL authors included Drs. James Barnard, Connor Flynn, Charles Long, and Sally McFarlane.

Citation: Turner DD, AM Vogelmann, RT Austin, JC Barnard, K Cady-Pereira, JC Chiu, SA Clough, C Flynn, MM Khaiyer, J Liljegren, K Johnson, B Lin, C Long, A Marshak, SY Matrosov, SA McFarlane, M Miller, Q Min, P Minnis, W O'Hirok, Z Wang, and W Wiscombe. 2007. "Thin Liquid Water Clouds - Their Importance and Our Challenge." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 88(2):177-190.


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