The role of water vapour in Earth’s energy flows
Allan, R. (2012) The role of water vapour in Earth’s energy flows. Surveys in Geophysics, 33 (3-4). pp. 557-564. ISSN 1573-0956 (special issue: Observing and Modeling Earth's Energy Flows)
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1007/s10712-011-9157-8
Water vapour modulates energy flows in Earth's climate system through transfer of latent heat by evaporation and condensation and by modifying the flows of radiative energy both in the longwave and shortwave portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. This article summarizes the role of water vapour in Earth's energy flows with particular emphasis on (1) the powerful thermodynamic constraint of the Clausius Clapeyron equation, (2) dynamical controls on humidity above the boundary layer (or free-troposphere), (3) uncertainty in continuum absorption in the relatively transparent "window" regions of the radiative spectrum and (4) implications for changes in the atmospheric hydrological cycle.