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September 3, 2020

NOAA-funded project to better connect climate models with evaporation observations

How much water evaporates from the ocean surface is an important factor in climate projections. Evaporation rates in existing climate models do not match measurements taken at the ocean surface. A study led by CSU Department of Atmospheric Science researcher Charlotte DeMott, and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, aims to bridge the gap between observations and models, improving the accuracy of climate projections.

The evaporation rates calculated by climate models might not be far off from the true rate, but slight differences in evaporation can impact clouds significantly. DeMott and collaborator Carol Anne Clayson, a scientist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, will evaluate how small changes in the way we compute ocean surface evaporation in climate models affect our understanding of clouds – an important consideration in predicting climate.

Ocean surface evaporation varies based on wind, temperature and humidity of the air over the surface. Climate models use slightly different methods, or algorithms, to estimate evaporation according to these environmental factors. These algorithm differences result in different evaporation rates.

“Our project seeks to understand how these algorithm differences contribute to differences in cloud patterns among climate models and the uncertainties surrounding how clouds regulate the Earth’s temperature, both today and in the future,” said DeMott, principal investigator on the project.

Read the full Source article, “Atmospheric scientist aims to better connect climate models with evaporation observations through NOAA-funded research.”

Image by Pexels from Pixabay.