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How a stable greenhouse effect on Earth is maintained under global warming
  • Jing Feng,
  • David Paynter,
  • Raymond Menzel
Jing Feng
Princeton University

Corresponding Author:jf7775@princeton.edu

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David Paynter
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Raymond Menzel
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Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are gases that absorb and emit thermal energy. In a warming climate, GHGs modulate the thermal cooling to space from the surface and atmosphere, which is a fundamental feedback process that affects climate sensitivity. Previous studies have stated that the thermal cooling to space with global warming is primarily emitted from the surface, rather than the atmosphere. Using a millennium-length coupled general circulation model (Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory’s CM3) and accurate line-by-line radiative transfer calculations, here we show that the atmospheric cooling to space accounts for 12 % to 50 % of Earth’s clear-sky longwave feedback parameter from the poles to the tropics. The atmospheric cooling to space is an efficient stabilizing feedback process because water vapor and non-condensable GHGs tend to emit at higher temperatures with surface warming as the thermodynamic structure of the atmosphere evolves. A simple yet comprehensive model is proposed in this study for predicting the clear-sky longwave feedback over a wide range of surface temperatures. It achieves good spectral agreement when compared to line-by-line calculations. Our study provides a theoretical way for assessing Earth’s climate sensitivity, with important implications for Earth-like planets.
22 Dec 2022Submitted to ESS Open Archive
22 Dec 2022Published in ESS Open Archive