On the scattering greenhouse effect of CO2 ice clouds

R. T. Pierrehumbert*, C. Erlick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The authors offer some remarks on the greenhouse effect due to high clouds that reflect thermal infrared radiation, but do not absorb or emit it. Such clouds are an idealization of the CO2 ice clouds that are thought to have existed early in the history of Mars. Clouds of this type enter also in the ability of Earth to recover from a globally glaciated "cold start" and in the determination of habitable zones of planetary systems. A simplified model of cloud optical effects is used to estimate the effect of high CO2 ice clouds on the planetary radiation budget in the solar and infrared spectrum. tt is argued that the scattering greenhouse effect certainly cancels out a large pan of the cooling effect due to the cloud's visible albedo and in some circumstances may even lead to a net warming as compared to the no-cloud case. Speculative implications for the climate of early Mars are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1897-1903
Number of pages7
JournalJournals of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - 15 May 1998
Externally publishedYes


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