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2010. Trends in tropospheric humidity from reanalysis systems

By A. E. Dessler and S. M. Davis

Abstract

NCAR) reanalysis declined between 1973 and 2007, particularly in the tropical mid and upper troposphere, the region that plays the key role in the water vapor feedback. If borne out, this result suggests potential problems in the consensus view of a positive water vapor feedback. Here we consider whether this result holds in other reanalyses and what time scale of climate fluctuation is associated with the negative specific humidity trends. The five reanalyses analyzed here (the older NCEP/NCAR and ERA40 reanalyses and the more modern Japanese Reanalysis (JRA), Modern Era Retrospective‐Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA), and European Centre for Medium‐Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)‐interim reanalyses) unanimously agree that specific humidity generally increases in response to short‐term climate variations (e.g., El Niño). In response to decadal climate fluctuations, the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis is unique in showing decreases in tropical mid and upper tropospheric specific humidity as the climate warms. All of the other reanalyses show that decadal warming is accompanied by increases in mid and upper tropospheric specific humidity. We conclude from this that it is doubtful that these negative long‐term specific humidity trends in the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis are realisti

Year: 2013
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