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Preface to the Special Issue “ISSI Workshop on Shallow Clouds and Water Vapor, Circulation and Climate Sensitivity”
Preface to the Special Issue ''ISSI Workshop on Shallow Clouds and Water Vapor, Circulation and Climate Sensitivity''
Robert Pincus 0 1 2 3
Bjorn Stevens 0 1 2 3
Robert Pincus 0 1 2 3
0 CNRS, LMD/IPSL, Universite ́ Pierre et Marie Curie , 75252 Paris , France
1 NASA/Langley Research Center , Hampton, VA 23681 , USA
2 University of Colorado and NOAA/Earth System Research Lab, Physical Sciences Division , Boulder, CO 80305 , USA
3 Max Planck Institute for Meteorology , Bundesstr. 53, 20146 Hamburg , Germany
Each of the 15 chapters in this work presents a paper gleaned from presentations at an International Space Science Institute Workshop on Shallow Clouds, Water vapor, Circulation and Climate Sensitivity organized as part of the World Climate Research Programme's Grand Science Challenge on Clouds, Circulation, and Climate Sensitivity. The workshop's somewhat awkward title reflects the practice of treating each subject separately-a state of affairs that the workshop sought to address. As the roughly 40 participating experts from around the world emphasized, the coupling of clouds and water vapor to circulation helps determine the nature of circulation systems in the past and present as well as the climate sensitivity that characterizes the response of the Earth's surface temperature to radiative forcing. It has been known for more than a decade that an understanding of factors controlling the distribution and amount of the low-level, fair-weather, clouds over the tropical oceans is critical for determining Earth's climate sensitivity. What has become clear only recently is that these clouds do not simply respond passively to the large-scale circulations in which they form. Studies of clouds and circulations across a range of scales, enabled by increasing computational power, have shown that clouds help set these circulations through their interactions with radiation. Radiative cooling from low clouds drives low-level temperature and pressure gradients that reinforce the regions of gentle subsidence in which they prevail. This pathway is also thought to be responsible for the clustering-or self-