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    Recent Changes in Surface Humidity: Development of the HadCRUH Dataset

    Willett, K.M. and Jones, P.D. and Gillett, Nathan P. and Thorne, Peter (2008) Recent Changes in Surface Humidity: Development of the HadCRUH Dataset. Journal of Climate, 21 (20). pp. 5364-5383. ISSN 0894-8755

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    Water vapor constitutes the most significant greenhouse gas, is a key driver of many atmospheric processes, and hence, is fundamental to understanding the climate system. It is a major factor in human “heat stress,” whereby increasing humidity reduces the ability to stay cool. Until now no truly global homogenized surface humidity dataset has existed with which to assess recent changes. The Met Office Hadley Centre and Climatic Research Unit Global Surface Humidity dataset (HadCRUH), described herein, provides a homogenized quality controlled near-global 5° by 5° gridded monthly mean anomaly dataset in surface specific and relative humidity from 1973 to 2003. It consists of land and marine data, and is geographically quasi-complete over the region 60°N–40°S. Between 1973 and 2003 surface specific humidity has increased significantly over the globe, tropics, and Northern Hemisphere. Global trends are 0.11 and 0.07 g kg−1 (10 yr)−1 for land and marine components, respectively. Trends are consistently larger in the tropics and in the Northern Hemisphere during summer, as expected: warmer regions exhibit larger increases in specific humidity for a given temperature change under conditions of constant relative humidity, based on the Clausius–Clapeyron equation. Relative humidity trends are not significant when averaged over the landmass of the globe, tropics, and Northern Hemisphere, although some seasonal changes are significant. A strong positive bias is apparent in marine humidity data prior to 1982, likely owing to a known change in reporting practice for dewpoint temperature at this time. Consequently, trends in both specific and relative humidity are likely underestimated over the oceans.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Humidity; Greenhouse gases; Water vapor; Trends; Surface layer;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Geography
    Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Institutes > Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units, ICARUS
    Item ID: 6560
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Peter Thorne
    Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2015 11:55
    Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Climate
    Publisher: American Meteorological Society
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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