Most of us learned all about clouds in grade school -- from the different types of clouds there are in the sky to how they form. But for climate scientists, there is much more to learn about clouds -- especially when it comes to the role clouds play in climate change.
Clouds can trap heat in Earth's atmosphere, causing warmer temperatures on the planet's surface. But they also reflect solar radiation, resulting in lower temperatures. This dual role has made it tricky to build reliable models of our changing climate -- and even led some scientists, who are far outside the mainstream, to push back against the large body of evidence showing that climate change is a real problem.
So, what exactly is the overall influence of clouds on climate change and our planet's future? To cut through the fog, I spoke with Dr. Greg Holland, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, for answers.
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