U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Roles of Fair-Weather Clouds on Climate Variability
Published: January 26, 2009
Posted: February 09, 2009

White, puffy cumulus clouds that look like pieces of floating cotton are called fair-weather clouds.  Scientists in DOE's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program are improving the understanding of fair-weather cloud properties that affect climate change.  Fair-weather clouds form over large areas of continents and in trade wind regions over oceans, playing an important role in the Earth's climate by reflecting the sun's energy away from the planet.  Scientists studied five-years worth of fair-weather cloud data from the ARM Climate Research Facility at the Southern Great Plains site in Oklahoma. The results showed that cloud properties such as cloud-base height, cloud-top height, and cloud cover depend mostly on the time of day and the amount of low-altitude moisture. These findings are helping scientists more accurately characterize and simulate fair-weather clouds in climate models, improving the prediction of climate change and its effects. 

Reference: Berg, L.K., and E.I Kassianov, 2008. Temporal Variability of Fair-Weather Cumulus Statistics at the ACRF SGP Site. Journal of Climate, 21:13: 3344-3358, [website]

Contact: Kiran Alapaty, SC-23.1, (301) 903-3175
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Atmospheric System Research
  • Facility: DOE ARM User Facility

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)