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Clouds are the great uncertainty of climate prediction. If researchers could get them more or less right in their models, it would enable them to be more definite about how warm it could get this century.

In this article, Richard A. Kerr reports that although plenty remains wrong with 'model clouds', researchers are now fixing a crucial shortcoming first encountered in 1995. At that time real measurements showed that clouds were absorbing 40 per cent more solar energy than the models predicted.

The good news is that during the intervening years, more accurate measurements and the refining of climate models have largely closed the gap between real and model clouds. Researchers hope that these advances in modelling can be confirmed in time for the next international assessment of climate change.

Link to Science news article