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Climate goals and computing the future of clouds

How clouds respond to warming remains the greatest source of uncertainty in climate projections. Improved computational and observational tools can reduce this uncertainty. Here we discuss the need for research focusing on high-resolution atmosphere models and the representation of clouds and turbulence within them.

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Figure 1: Dependence of climate goals on equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) and of ECS on low-cloud feedback.
Figure 2: Evolution of horizontal resolution of climate models and maximum computer performance since 1979.
Figure 3: Grid cells in a global climate model and a large-eddy simulation of shallow cumulus clouds at 5 m resolution15.

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We thank Momme Hell (Univ. California) for contributing to preparing Fig. 3. C.B. acknowledges grant DE-SC0012451 from the US Department of Energy.

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Correspondence to Tapio Schneider.

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Schneider, T., Teixeira, J., Bretherton, C. et al. Climate goals and computing the future of clouds. Nature Clim Change 7, 3–5 (2017).

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