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How Will Clouds Affect Climate Change?

One of the most critical questions in climate research today is how global clouds will change in a warmer environment. Physical mechanisms in the atmosphere have the potential to moderate or accelerate the warming from greenhouse gases. These mechanisms are called feedbacks. Even with today’s improved forecasts, feedback from clouds is uncertain – meaning scientists don’t know how much Earth’s average temperature will warm as the CO2 atmospheric concentrations continue to increase. A new University of Maryland and NASA study attempts to reduce this uncertainty by constructing a long-term trend in cloudiness using NASA and NOAA satellite observations going back to 1980.

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