One of the reasons climate models fail is because of clouds.
This is shown in a recent study by researchers from Stockholm University and the University of Miami published in Nature Communications. The cooling effect of mid-level clouds is currently missing in global climate models.
“Using the satellite observations and high-resolution numerical modelling, we find that thin mid-level clouds are frequently formed in the tropics in the vicinity of deep convective clouds and that their cooling effect could be as large as the warming induced by high cirrus clouds”, says lead author of the study Quentin Bourgeois, postdoctoral associate at the Department of Meteorology (MISU) and the Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm Un
Also another short quote
Clouds cover about 70% of the Earth’s surface at any time. Different types of clouds affect the Earth’s climate differently: low liquid clouds, such as the cotton-like cumulus, cool the Earth while high altitude ice clouds, such as the wispy cirrus, warm the climate. Overall, clouds cool the climate by about 20 W m-2. In contrast, the Earth receives on average about 340 W m-2 energy from the sun every day and our current emissions of anthropogenic greenhouse gases warm the climate by about 3 W m-2.
So if the models were that wrong about clouds what else were they wrong about? If huge pieces of the puzzle 20 w-m2 are missing how can we get fine grain detail eg the 3 W-m2? Garbage in garbage out?
Clouds need to condense around small particles called aerosols to form, and human aerosol pollution—primarily in the form of sulfuric acid—has made for cloudier skies. That’s why scientists have generally assumed Earth’s ancient skies were much sunnier than they are now. But today, three new studies show how naturally emitted gases from trees can also form the seed particles for clouds. The results not only point to a cloudier past, but they also indicate a potentially cooler future: If Earth’s climate is less sensitive to rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, as the study suggests, future temperatures may not rise as quickly as predicted.
That was a quote from the article.