MURAL - Maynooth University Research Archive Library



    A quantification of uncertainties in historical tropical tropospheric temperature trends from radiosondes


    Thorne, Peter and Brohan, Philip and Titchner, Holly A. and McCarthy, Mark P. and Sherwood, Steve C. and Peterson, Thomas C. and Haimberger, L. and Parker, D.E. and Tett, Simon F.B. and Santer, Benjamin D. and Fereday, David R. and Kennedy, John J. (2011) A quantification of uncertainties in historical tropical tropospheric temperature trends from radiosondes. Journal of Geophysical Research, 116 (D12). ISSN 0148-0227

    [img]
    Preview
    Download (1MB) | Preview


    Share your research

    Twitter Facebook LinkedIn GooglePlus Email more...



    Add this article to your Mendeley library


    Abstract

    The consistency of tropical tropospheric temperature trends with climate model expectations remains contentious. A key limitation is that the uncertainties in observations from radiosondes are both substantial and poorly constrained. We present a thorough uncertainty analysis of radiosonde‐based temperature records. This uses an automated homogenization procedure and a previously developed set of complex error models where the answer is known a priori. We perform a number of homogenization experiments in which error models are used to provide uncertainty estimates of real‐world trends. These estimates are relatively insensitive to a variety of processing choices. Over 1979–2003, the satellite‐equivalent tropical lower tropospheric temperature trend has likely (5–95% confidence range) been between −0.01 K/decade and 0.19 K/decade (0.05–0.23 K/decade over 1958–2003) with a best estimate of 0.08 K/decade (0.14 K/decade). This range includes both available satellite data sets and estimates from models (based upon scaling their tropical amplification behavior by observed surface trends). On an individual pressure level basis, agreement between models, theory, and observations within the troposphere is uncertain over 1979 to 2003 and nonexistent above 300 hPa. Analysis of 1958–2003, however, shows consistent model‐data agreement in tropical lapse rate trends at all levels up to the tropical tropopause, so the disagreement in the more recent period is not necessarily evidence of a general problem in simulating long‐term global warming. Other possible reasons for the discrepancy since 1979 are: observational errors beyond those accounted for here, end‐point effects, inadequate decadal variability in model lapse rates, or neglected climate forcings.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: tropical tropospheric temperature trends; radiosondes;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Geography
    Item ID: 6530
    Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1029/2010JD015487
    Depositing User: Peter Thorne
    Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2015 16:26
    Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Geophysical Research
    Publisher: American Geophysical Union (AGU)
    Refereed: Yes
    URI:

    Repository Staff Only(login required)

    View Item Item control page

    Downloads

    Downloads per month over past year