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Stratospheric water vapor and climate: sensitivity to the representation in radiation codes

Maycock, A.C. and Shine, K.P. ORCID: (2012) Stratospheric water vapor and climate: sensitivity to the representation in radiation codes. Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, 117. D13102. ISSN 2156–2202

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/2012JD017484


There has been considerable interest in the climate impact of trends in stratospheric water vapor (SWV). However, the representation of the radiative properties of water vapor under stratospheric conditions remains poorly constrained across different radiation codes. This study examines the sensitivity of a detailed line-by-line (LBL) code, a Malkmus narrow-band model and two broadband GCM radiation codes to a uniform perturbation in SWV in the longwave spectral region. The choice of sampling rate in wave number space (Δν) in the LBL code is shown to be important for calculations of the instantaneous change in heating rate (ΔQ) and the instantaneous longwave radiative forcing (ΔFtrop). ΔQ varies by up to 50% for values of Δν spanning 5 orders of magnitude, and ΔFtrop varies by up to 10%. In the three less detailed codes, ΔQ differs by up to 45% at 100 hPa and 50% at 1 hPa compared to a LBL calculation. This causes differences of up to 70% in the equilibrium fixed dynamical heating temperature change due to the SWV perturbation. The stratosphere-adjusted radiative forcing differs by up to 96% across the less detailed codes. The results highlight an important source of uncertainty in quantifying and modeling the links between SWV trends and climate.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:28895
Publisher:American Geophysical Union

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