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    An Analysis of Tropospheric Humidity Trends from Radiosondes


    McCarthy, Mark P. and Thorne, Peter and Titchner, Holly A. (2009) An Analysis of Tropospheric Humidity Trends from Radiosondes. Journal of Climate, 22 (22). pp. 5820-5838. ISSN 0894-8755

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    Abstract

    A new analysis of historical radiosonde humidity observations is described. An assessment of both known and unknown instrument and observing practice changes has been conducted to assess their impact on bias and uncertainty in long-term trends. The processing of the data includes interpolation of data to address known sampling bias from missing dry day and cold temperature events, a first-guess adjustment for known radiosonde model changes, and a more sophisticated ensemble of estimates based on 100 neighbor-based homogenizations. At each stage the impact and uncertainty of the process has been quantified. The adjustments remove an apparent drying over Europe and parts of Asia and introduce greater consistency between temperature and specific humidity trends from day and night observations. Interannual variability and trends at the surface are shown to be in good agreement with independent in situ datasets, although some steplike discrepancies are apparent between the time series of relative humidity at the surface. Adjusted trends, accounting for documented and undocumented break points and their uncertainty, across the extratropical Northern Hemisphere lower and midtroposphere show warming of 0.1–0.4 K decade−1 and moistening on the order of 1%–5% decade−1 since 1970. There is little or no change in the observed relative humidity in the same period, consistent with climate model expectation of a positive water vapor feedback in the extratropics with near-constant relative humidity.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Troposphere; Humidity; Radiosonde observations; Data processing; Northern Hemisphere;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Geography
    Item ID: 6540
    Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1175/2009JCLI2879.1
    Depositing User: Peter Thorne
    Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2015 11:52
    Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Climate
    Publisher: American Meteorological Society
    Refereed: Yes
    URI:

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