How will global warming affect the nature and prevalance of clouds?
May 23, 2010 10:54 AM   Subscribe

How will global warming affect the nature and prevalance of clouds?

Will there be more clouds? Less? More clouds of a particular type? Will the increase in temperature change the prevalance of particular clouds in particular climates? Will global warming result in more spectacular sunsets? Will they disappear altogether and one day our kids will ask us what those white fluffy things in photos are? Thanks in advance to anyone who knows about clouds.
posted by Sully to Science & Nature (2 answers total)
Short answer: No one really knows with very much certainty.

Unsatisfying answer: The effects will vary dramatically from place to place.

Satisfying answer: More clouds; a higher global average temperature is likely to result in more evaporation of water from the oceans, resulting in higher amounts of water in the atmosphere, which means more clouds. Globally. On average.

I don't think global warming probably will have much impact on sunsets. The spectacular variation of colors in sunsets is caused by particulates suspended in the air (dust, soot, etc). That is likely to increase, as global coal use increases, but it won't be causally linked to global warming.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:05 AM on May 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think asperatus clouds could be the signature cloud type of global warming (courtesy of a lovely FPP by jessamyn):

An elderly Inuit hunter said he had never seen such a sky before in all his life....

'I went outside and was stunned by the beautiful and dramatic cloud formation. I just couldn't believe my eyes. I have worked in the Arctic regularly for the past 37 years and I had never seen the sky like it.'

posted by jamjam at 11:38 AM on May 23, 2010

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