Two graphs from the paper.
Observations of clear-sky longwave radiative cooling during the EUREC4A field campaign, on Jan 26, 2020 (fish pattern). Relative humidity (a) and clear-sky longwave cooling (b) profiles (thin lines) and their means (thick lines), colored based on the height of the maximum cooling. Credit: Fildier et al. [2023], Figures 1a and 1b
Editors’ Highlights are summaries of recent papers by AGU’s journal editors.
Source: AGU Advances

In the absence of clouds, the atmosphere slowly cools down by radiating infrared energy to outer space. This radiative cooling feeds atmospheric circulations and convections, regulating associated clouds and their climate impact. However, we lacked detailed observations and a good theoretical understanding.  

To fill in this knowledge gap, Fildier et al. [2023] used latest observations of low-level peaks in radiative cooling from subsidence regimes in the tropical Atlantic to develop a new theory.  Based on three key assumptions, such as longwave radiative cooling is dominated by cooling to space, the theory deduced a close connection between the water vapor path lapse rate and the shape of the radiative cooling profile, in good agreement with observations.

These results have important implications for understanding interactions between radiation, convection and clouds, key mechanisms for the Earth’s meteorology. This work also helps to identify low cloud patterns sensitive to radiative-convective feedbacks.

Citation: Fildier, B., Muller, C., Pincus, R., & Fueglistaler, S. (2023). How moisture shapes low-level radiative cooling in subsidence regimes. AGU Advances, 4, e2023AV000880.

—Hang Su, Editor, AGU Advances

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