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      An update on Earth's energy balance in light of the latest global observations

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          Most cited references 47

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          Constraints on future changes in climate and the hydrologic cycle.

          What can we say about changes in the hydrologic cycle on 50-year timescales when we cannot predict rainfall next week? Eventually, perhaps, a great deal: the overall climate response to increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases may prove much simpler and more predictable than the chaos of short-term weather. Quantifying the diversity of possible responses is essential for any objective, probability-based climate forecast, and this task will require a new generation of climate modelling experiments, systematically exploring the range of model behaviour that is consistent with observations. It will be substantially harder to quantify the range of possible changes in the hydrologic cycle than in global-mean temperature, both because the observations are less complete and because the physical constraints are weaker.
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            Aerosols, climate, and the hydrological cycle.

            Human activities are releasing tiny particles (aerosols) into the atmosphere. These human-made aerosols enhance scattering and absorption of solar radiation. They also produce brighter clouds that are less efficient at releasing precipitation. These in turn lead to large reductions in the amount of solar irradiance reaching Earth's surface, a corresponding increase in solar heating of the atmosphere, changes in the atmospheric temperature structure, suppression of rainfall, and less efficient removal of pollutants. These aerosol effects can lead to a weaker hydrological cycle, which connects directly to availability and quality of fresh water, a major environmental issue of the 21st century.
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              Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES): An Earth Observing System Experiment

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Geoscience
                Nature Geosci
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1752-0894
                1752-0908
                October 2012
                September 23 2012
                October 2012
                : 5
                : 10
                : 691-696
                Article
                10.1038/ngeo1580
                © 2012

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