2020 Volume 98 Issue 6 Pages 1097-1127
This review paper aims to provide readers with a broad range of meteorological backgrounds with basic information on marine low clouds and the concept of their parameterizations used in global climate models. The first part of the paper presents basic information on marine low clouds and their importance in climate simulations in a comprehensible way. It covers the global distribution and important physical processes related to the clouds, typical examples of observational and modeling studies of such clouds, and the considerable importance of changes in low clouds for climate simulations. In the latter half of the paper, the concept of cloud parameterizations that determine cloud fraction and cloud water content in global climate models, which is sometimes called cloud “macrophysics”, is introduced. In the parameterizations, the key element is how to assume or determine the inhomogeneity of water vapor and cloud water content in model grid boxes whose size is several tens to several hundreds of kilometers. Challenges related to cloud representation in such models that must be tackled in the next couple of decades are discussed.