Wednesday, April 4, 2012

New paper finds significant, natural decrease in cloudiness over past 50 years

A paper published last week finds that cloud cover over China significantly decreased during the period 1954-2005. This finding is in direct contradiction to the theory of man-made global warming which presumes that warming allegedly from CO2 'should' cause an increase in water vapor and cloudiness. The authors also find the decrease in cloud cover was not related to man-made aerosols, and thus was likely a natural phenomenon, potentially a result of increased solar activity via the Svensmark theory or other mechanisms. As climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer has pointed out his book
"The most obvious way for warming to be caused naturally is for small, natural fluctuations in the circulation patterns of the atmosphere and ocean to result in a 1% or 2% decrease in global cloud cover. Clouds are the Earth’s sunshade, and if cloud cover changes for any reason, you have global warming — or global cooling."

Ann. Geophys., 30, 573-582, 2012

Significant decreasing cloud cover during 1954–2005 due to more clear-sky days and less overcast days in China and its relation to aerosol

X. Xia
LAGEO, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100029, China

Abstract. An updated analysis of cloud cover during 1954–2005 in China was performed using homogeneous cloud cover data from 314 stations. Long-term changes in frequencies of different cloud cover categories and their contributions to long-term changes in cloud cover were assessed. Furthermore, aerosol effects on cloud cover trends were discussed based on comparison of cloud cover trends in polluted and mildly polluted regions. Frequencies of clear sky (cloud cover <20%) and overcast days (cloud cover >80%) were observed to increase by ~2.2 days and decrease by ~3.3 days per decade, respectively, which accounts for ~80% of cloud cover reduction. Larger decreasing trends in cloud cover due to larger increase in clear sky frequency and larger decreases in overcast frequency were observed at stations with lower aerosol optical depth. There is no significant difference in trends regarding cloud cover, clear sky frequency, and overcast frequency between mountain and plain stations. These results are inconsistent with our expectation that larger decreasing trends in cloud cover should have been observed in regions with higher aerosol loading where more aerosols could lead to stronger obscuring effect on ground observation of cloud cover and stronger radiative effect as compared with the mildly polluted regions. Aerosol effect on decreasing cloud cover in China appear not to be supported by this analysis and therefore, further study on this issue is required.

Full Article (PDF, 2756 KB)   


  1. "This finding is in direct contradiction to the theory of man-made global warming which presumes that warming allegedly from CO2 'should' cause an increase in water vapor and cloudiness."


    Isn't it skeptics who usually claim a warming world will cause more clouds and that will act as a negative feedback?

    Why yes I think it is.

    This is a positive feedback.

  2. BS right back at you NnN:

    Skeptics do claim (based on observations) increased clouds cause negative feedback. Alarmists claim (based on theoretical models) increased clouds causes increased "radiative forcing" and net positive feedback, failing to properly acknowledge the larger net negative feedback from blocking incoming solar radiation.




    Clouds have an enormous impact on Earth's climate, reflecting back into space about one third of the total amount of sunlight that hits the Earth's atmosphere. As the atmosphere warms, cloud patterns may change, altering the amount of sunlight absorbed by the Earth. Because clouds are such powerful climate actors, even small changes in average cloud amounts, locations, and type could speed warming, slow it, or even reverse it. Current climate models do not represent cloud physics well, so the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has consistently rated clouds among its highest research priorities.

    Quite obviously, if clouds play a major role - which they do - and "Current climate models do not represent cloud physics well" - which they don't - then the proper scientific approach is to hold off on forming a conclusion until better data are available.