EGU21-6444, updated on 04 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

How do polar clouds and precipitation affect global warming?

Jennifer Kay
Jennifer Kay
  • University of Colorado Boulder, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Studies, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Boulder, United States of America (

Understanding the influence of clouds and precipitation on global warming remains an important unsolved research problem. This talk presents an overview of this topic, with a focus on recent observations, theory, and modeling results for polar clouds. After a general introduction, experiments that disable cloud radiative feedbacks or “lock the clouds” within a state‐of‐the‐art,  well‐documented, and observationally vetted climate model will be presented. Through comparison of idealized greenhouse warming experiments with and without cloud locking, the sign and magnitude cloud feedbacks can be quantified. Global cloud feedbacks increase both global and Arctic warming by around 25%. In contrast, disabling Arctic cloud feedbacks has a negligible influence on both Arctic and global surface warming. Do observations and theory support a positive global cloud feedback and a weak Arctic cloud feedback?  How does precipitation affect polar cloud feedbacks? What are the implications especially for climate change in polar regions?  

How to cite: Kay, J.: How do polar clouds and precipitation affect global warming?, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-6444,, 2021.


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