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Assessing atmospheric temperature data sets for climate studies

Cederlof, M., Bengtsson, L. and Hodges, K. I. (2016) Assessing atmospheric temperature data sets for climate studies. Tellus Series A: Dynamic Meteorology and Oceanography, 68. 31503. ISSN 1600-0870

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3402/tellusa.v68.31503

Abstract/Summary

Observed near-surface temperature trends during the period 1979–2014 show large differences between land and ocean, with positive values over land (0.25–0.27 °C/decade) that are significantly larger than over the ocean (0.06–0.12 °C/decade). Temperature trends in the mid-troposphere of 0.08-0.11 °C/decade, on the other hand, are similar for both land and ocean and agree closely with the ocean surface temperature trend. The lapse rate is consequently systematically larger over land than over the ocean and also shows a positive trend in most land areas. This is puzzling as a response to external warming, such as from increasing greenhouse gases, is broadly the same throughout the troposphere. The reduced tropospheric warming trend over land suggests a weaker vertical temperature coupling indicating that some of the processes in the planetary boundary layer such as inversions have a limited influence on the temperature of the free atmosphere. Alternatively, the temperature of the free atmosphere is influenced by advection of colder tropospheric air from the oceans. It is therefore suggested to use either the more robust tropospheric temperature or ocean surface temperature in studies of climate sensitivity. We also conclude that the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Reanalysis Interim can be used to obtain consistent temperature trends through the depth of the atmosphere, as they are consistent both with near-surface temperature trends and atmospheric temperature trends obtained from microwave sounding sensors.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:66252
Publisher:Co-Action Publishing

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