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  1. http://www.pnas.org/content/110/45/18087.full Significance We show observational evidence for a stratospheric water vapor feedback—a warmer climate increases stratospheric water vapor, and because stratospheric water vapor is itself a greenhouse gas, this leads to further warming. An estimate of its magnitude from a climate model yields a value of +0.3 W/(m2⋅K), suggesting that this feedback plays an important role in our climate system. Next Section Abstract We show here that stratospheric water vapor variations play an important role in the evolution of our climate. This comes from analysis of observations showing that stratospheric water vapor increases with tropospheric temperature, implying the existence of a stratospheric water vapor feedback. We estimate the strength of this feedback in a chemistry–climate model to be +0.3 W/(m2⋅K), which would be a significant contributor to the overall climate sensitivity. One-third of this feedback comes from increases in water vapor entering the stratosphere through the tropical tropopause layer, with the rest coming from increases in water vapor entering through the extratropical tropopause. climate change lowermost stratosphere overworld Doubling carbon dioxide in our atmosphere by itself leads to a global average warming of ∼1.2 °C. However, this direct warming from carbon dioxide drives other changes, known as feedbacks, that increase the eventual warming to 2.0–4.5 °C. Thus, much of the warming predicted for the next century comes not from direct warming by carbon dioxide but from feedbacks. The strongest climate feedback is the tropospheric water vapor feedback (1, 2). The troposphere is the bottom 10–15 km of the atmosphere, and there are physical reasons to expect it to become moister as the surface warms (3)—and, indeed, both observations (4⇓–6) and climate models (7, 8) verify this. Because water vapor is itself a greenhouse gas, tropospheric moistening more than doubles the direct warming from carbon dioxide. Stratospheric water vapor is also a greenhouse gas (9) whose interannual variations may have had important climatic consequences (10). This opens the possibility of a stratospheric water vapor feedback (11, 12) whereby a warming climate increases stratospheric water vapor, leading to additional warming. In this paper, we investigate this possibility. Previous SectionNext Section Analysis Microwave Limb Sounder Observations of the Overworld. Stratospheric water vapor can best be understood by subdividing the stratosphere into two regions: the overworld, that part of the stratosphere above the altitude of the tropical tropopause (∼16 km), and the lowermost stratosphere, that part of the extratropical stratosphere below that altitude (13) (see also figure 1 of ref. 14). Air enters the overworld exclusively through the tropical tropopause layer (TTL), where cold temperatures regulate the humidity of the air (14, 15) (we hereafter refer to the water content of air entering the overworld as H2Oov-entry). Variations in H2Oov-entry can therefore be traced to variations in TTL temperatures. Fig. 1 shows monthly average tropical 82-hPa (∼18-km altitude) water-vapor volume-mixing–ratio anomalies observed by the Aura Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) (16) (all tropical averages in this paper are over 30°N–30°S; anomalies are the remainder after the average annual cycle has been subtracted). These data are a good approximation of H2Oov-entry because this air has just entered the overworld and production of water from methane oxidation is negligible. In a new window Download PPT Fig. 1. Time series of water vapor anomalies at 82 hPa (∼18 km), averaged over the latitudes 30°N–30°S. Data are from measurements made by the MLS (solid line). Dashed and dotted lines are reconstructions from multivariate regressions to the MLS data using different reanalysis estimates of BD and ΔT indices. To better understand the observed variations in Fig. 1, we performed a multivariate linear regression on the data with the following regression model:QBO is a quasibiennial oscillation index, for which we use the standardized anomaly of monthly and zonally averaged equatorial 50-hPa winds (17); BD is a Brewer–Dobson circulation index, for which we use the 82-hPa tropical heating rate anomaly as a surrogate; ΔT is the tropical average 500-hPa temperature anomaly, which is an index for the temperature of the tropical troposphere; and r is the residual. Values for the ΔT and BD indices are obtained from the Modern Era Retrospective-Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) (18) and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts interim reanalysis (ERAi) (19). See Methods for details about the regression. Fig. 1 shows that the fits do an excellent job reproducing the MLS measurements (adjusted R2 = 68% and 70% for the MERRA and ERAi fits, respectively). Table 1 lists the coefficients from regressions of the MLS data. Of particular note, the positive coefficient for the ΔT index supports a positive stratospheric water vapor feedback: an increase in tropospheric temperatures leads to higher H2Oov-entry, and because water vapor is a greenhouse gas, this leads to further warming of the troposphere. In this window In a new window Table 1. Coefficients from regressions of the H2Oov-entry time series Climate Model Simulation of the Overworld. We have also analyzed H2Oov-entry in version 2 of the Goddard Earth Observing System Chemistry Climate Model (GEOSCCM) (20). Here we look at a 21st century simulation driven by sea surface temperatures and other forcings from an A1B run of the National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Climate Model 3.0 (21). Fig. 2 shows annual-average 85-hPa tropical H2O from the GEOSCCM (hereafter GEOSCCM H2Oov-entry) increases over the 21st century. To understand the factors underlying the GEOSCCM trend, we regress the GEOSCCM H2Oov-entry time series using the same regression model used to analyze the MLS data (Eq. 1). The BD and ΔT time series come from the GEOSCCM; the model does not have a QBO in it, so that process is excluded from the regression. In a new window Download PPT Fig. 2. Time series of annual-average H2Oov-entry anomalies from the GEOSCCM (black) and the reconstruction from a multivariate least-squares regression (gray) over the 21st century. The dashed and dotted lines are the BD and ΔT terms of the regression, respectively. Fig. 2 shows that the regression accurately reconstructs GEOSCCM H2Oov-entry. The individual components of the regression are also plotted and they show that the increasing H2Oov-entry over the 21st century is driven by warming of the troposphere (the ΔT term), which is partially offset by cooling of the TTL from an increase in the strength of the BD circulation (22, 23). The coefficients of the GEOSCCM regression are also listed in Table 1. The climate variations in the MLS data are dominated by El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), whereas climate variation in the GEOSCCM is predominantly long-term warming. Because of this, we also perform regressions on GEOSCCM data filtered to remove variations with timescales >10 y, thereby emphasizing the short-term variations. These coefficients are also listed in Table 1 and, in general, this regression also produces results similar to the MLS regressions. Lowermost Stratosphere. Air in the lowermost stratosphere (hereafter, LMS) is a mixture of air that descended from the overworld, which went through the TTL, and air that crossed the extratropical tropopause, which is warmer than the tropical tropopause and therefore carries higher H2O mixing ratios into the stratosphere (14). The factors that control LMS H2O are not as well understood as for the overworld. We therefore apply the simplest test by regressing LMS H2O anomalies against extratropical tropospheric temperatures anomalies. Fig. 3 shows a scatterplot of these quantities from the northern hemisphere. Overall, the GEOSCCM regressions yield slopes of 2.9 ± 0.1 and 1.9 ± 0.1 ppm/K in the northern and southern hemispheres, respectively. Regressions using time series filtered to remove variations with timescales >10 y produce slopes of 2.3 ± 0.6 and 1.7 ± 0.5 ppm/K. In a new window Download PPT Fig. 3. Scatter plots of (Upper) GEOSCCM annual-average lowermost stratospheric H2O (200-hPa mixing ratio, averaged between 50°N and 90°N) vs. extratropical tropospheric temperature (500-hPa temperature, averaged between 30°N and 90°N) and (Lower) the corresponding scatterplot of MLS monthly average H2O vs. MERRA temperatures. For these plots, the GEOSCCM data have been filtered to remove long-term (>10 y) variations. The solid line is the least-squares fit, and the dashed lines are the 95% confidence interval. Using MLS H2O data and MERRA temperatures, the regression slopes are 1.1 ± 0.7 and 0.7 ± 0.5 ppm/K for the two hemispheres (results using ERAi temperatures are similar). Note that MLS H2O mixing ratios in this region of the atmosphere are about half of the GEOSCCM’s (∼10 ppm vs. 20 ppm), so the regressions produce similar fractional changes in H2O per unit of surface warming. Both the MLS and GEOSCCM data indicate that LMS H2O increases with increasing tropospheric temperatures, consistent with a positive LMS water vapor feedback. However, the details of the regression (e.g., latitude range to average over), although reasonable, are ultimately ad hoc because we do not have a good understanding of the processes that regulate LMS H2O. More work is needed to strengthen our understanding of this issue. Quantifying the Feedback. Fig. 4 plots the change in zonal average stratospheric H2O in the GEOSCCM over the 21st century (hereafter, ΔH2O). The contribution from CH4 oxidation has been removed by assuming that each CH4 molecule destroyed produces two H2O molecules (24, 25). There is little variability in overworld ΔH2O because stratospheric transport homogenizes the stratosphere much faster (∼5 y) than H2Oov-entry is changing over the 21st century. As a result, overworld ΔH2O is everywhere approximately equal to the change in H2Oov-entry over the 21st century. In a new window Download PPT Fig. 4. Change in zonal average stratospheric H2O in ppm over the 21st century from the GEOSCCM; the contribution from methane oxidation has been subtracted. Note that the color scale is nonlinear; white areas indicate the troposphere. The dashed and solid lines are the 0.6 and 0.8 ppm contours, respectively. An exception is the near-zero value over the South Pole at ∼22 km. This reflects the fact that the Antarctic stratosphere is near saturation during winter. Stratospheric cooling over the 21st century therefore increases condensation and irreversible loss of H2O there, which on average cancels increasing H2Oov-entry. The rest of the stratosphere is so far above the frost point that it never saturates, so stratospheric cooling has no effect on H2O. Radiative transfer calculations are used to quantify the change in global average radiative flux at the tropopause due to the ΔH2O field in Fig. 4. This calculation includes an adjustment to stratospheric temperatures using a fixed dynamical heating assumption (26). The calculated change in downward flux at the tropopause is +0.59 W/m2. Dividing the change in flux by the change in global average surface temperature (2.0 K) yields a stratospheric water vapor feedback with a magnitude of +0.29 W/(m2⋅K). Most of this feedback, however, comes from ΔH2O in the LMS because the largest values of ΔH2O are there and because the radiative impact of ΔH2O maximizes just above the tropopause (10). To isolate the impact of changes in overworld ΔH2O, we replace ΔH2O in the LMS with 0.7 ppm, a value typical of the overworld. We then recalculate the change in downward flux at the tropopause to be +0.19 W/m2, which in turn yields a feedback factor of +0.10 W/(m2⋅K). Thus, one-third of the stratospheric water vapor feedback comes from increases in water vapor entering the stratosphere through the TTL, with the rest coming from increases in water vapor entering the LMS through the extratropical tropopause. The part of the feedback due to TTL processes is on firm footing because the GEOSCCM’s simulation of increasing H2Oov-entry is in good agreement with MLS observations, and the GEOSCCM results are typical of other chemistry–climate models with a well-resolved TTL and stratosphere (27). The LMS portion of the feedback, on the other hand, should be considered more preliminary because of limitations in our understanding of LMS H2O. This stratospheric water vapor feedback may be an important component of our climate system (28). A +0.1 W/(m2⋅K) feedback would be responsible for ∼10% or ∼0.4 K of the temperature response of a climate with an equilibrium climate sensitivity of 4 °C per doubled carbon dioxide. Because of nonlinearities in climate sensitivity, however, this same feedback would be responsible for ∼5% or ∼0.1 K of the temperature response for a climate with a sensitivity of 2 °C. The larger but more speculative feedback estimate of +0.3 W/(m2⋅K) would lead to contributions at least a factor of 3 larger. Note that climate models uniformly project increases in stratospheric water vapor as the climate warms. For example, in a set of 16 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) climate model simulations (29) of the 21st century driven by the RCP4.5 scenario, we found that the change in 70-hPa tropical H2O over the 21st century ranges from 0.2 to 1.0 ppm. Thus, the stratospheric water vapor feedback is already operating—to some extent, at least—in climate models. However, differences in ΔH2O among the models open the possibility of large differences among the models in this feedback. This might explain some of the spread in climate sensitivities among the models. Previous SectionNext Section Methods In the paper, we regressed the monthly MLS H2O anomaly time series against a set of regressors that were previously identified as influencing H2Oov-entry. The regressors are monthly anomalies, calculated relative to the MLS data period. The regression is a standard linear least-squares multivariate regression and the regressors are lagged to account for the finite time it takes for the change in the indices to impact TTL temperatures and then to be felt at 82 hPa. The QBO index is lagged by 3 mo and the BD index and ΔT are lagged by 1 mo. Although each of these lags is physically reasonable, the exact lag is set to maximize the explained variance. For the LMS regressions, the maximum explained variance occurs with no lag between the time series. The ENSO is an important driver of interannual variability in the climate system, but we omit it from Eq. 1because our tropical tropospheric temperature regressor captures most of that variability. Likewise, whereas there are physical mechanisms by which QBO and BD may be correlated (30), the correlation is not statistically significant over the MLS period, and even over a longer time period the two are only weakly correlated (31). Fig. 5 shows time series of the components of the MLS regression. There is a clear QBO signal in H2Oov-entry(32⇓–34). The strength of the BD circulation regulates upwelling in the TTL, which is inversely connected to TTL temperature anomalies (35). BD variations have previously been identified as an explanation for the drop in H2Oov-entry after 2000 (36, 37), and our analysis shows that a strengthening BD circulation contributed (along with the QBO) to a similar drop of H2Oov-entry during 2012. ΔT variations are responsible for H2Oov-entryvariations of a few tenths of a ppm. Such variations are consistent with both simple arguments (38) and climate models (39) that suggest a warming climate will warm the tropopause. The residual shows some physical structure, suggesting that other processes may play a part in regulating stratospheric water vapor.
  2. J Paul Gordon

    Time for the fantasy climate suite

    OK Here it is, J Paul's imaginary, fantasy climate for good ole ORH. Post your own. It's not hard to play with the "official" format if you use Excel and convert to PDF 00FantasyYearInitialConstruct-1 (Autosaved).pdf
  3. traciloudin

    Thought experiment

    Hello! I'm new the forums, and I had a thought experiment I've been playing around with. Please note that I'm a science fiction and fantasy writer, so this really has nothing at all to do with Earth's atmosphere. So please indulge me in a moment of whimsy. Let us postulate that there is a similar-sized planet with a similar atmosphere and axial tilt to Earth that's a similar distance from a similar sun, etc. However, let's assume the occupants of this planet aren't big polluters. What would happen if there were giant walls surrounding each of the continents? Let's say the walls extend all the way up through the stratosphere, such that nothing could fly over them unless it were practically in space. Normally the rotation of the Earth causes a jet stream, but if there were walls, the jet stream wouldn't work. What would happen to the air inside those walls? Let's say there's a giant wall around the North Pole, another around Africa, another around North America, etc. Would the air still move in a circular pattern inside those walls? Would rainfall still be similarly distributed? Would storms be fewer and weaker? Would temperatures fluctuate? Thanks for any help you can provide! I hope you've enjoyed this thought experiment. If you'd like to contact me privately or outside these forums, go to www.traciloudin.com/contact
  4. Total 2014-15 snowfall amounts with normals and departures for NWS eastern region Decided to start my first topic rather than put this in banter. I believe that this will make a good conversation thread by itself!
  5. The Lyndon State College AMS&NWA Executive Board is happy to announce the 3 main speakers for the 38th Annual Northeastern Storm Conference in Rutland Vermont. March 8-10, 2013. Friday Night "Ice Breaker": Stephen Bennett, J.D. "Stephen (Steve) Bennett, J.D. is a founding partner and Chief Science and Products Officer for EarthRisk Technologies. Steve's leadership role includes directing EarthRisk's product pipeline as well as providing strategic guidance for the company’s research portfolio. He also manages the EarthRisk development team and is the company liaison with university researchers around the world. EarthRisk provides software as a solution for analysts who link weather to business decisions. EarthRisk's research goes into the proverbial “black hole” for predicting weather more than one week in advance. We pioneer "big data" for weather analysis by leveraging the power of cloud computing to perform millions of statistical calculations each day. EarthRisk's products link past weather events to future forecast outcomes in real time. We provide data-driven probabilistic forecasts for extreme temperature events up to 40-days ahead. Prior to founding EarthRisk, Steve spent three years at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego where he forged relationships linking earth systems research to energy, insurance, and financial firms. Steve has been a meteorologist since 1995, forecasting the weather and applying weather research for financial investing and media applications. He served six years at Citadel Investment Group, a hedge fund in Chicago, where he was part of the team that built and launched Citadel's Global Energy Trading business. Steve also spent nearly two years at the Enron Corporation in the research division supporting natural gas trading. The first half of his career spanned a variety of consulting companies and media outlets including The Weather Channel, WeatherData Inc. and Weather Services Corporation. Steve completed his undergraduate meteorology degree in 1995 from the University of South Alabama and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the John Marshall Law School in 2008. He is currently the chairman of the American Meteorological Society's Energy Committee on the AMS Board for Enterprise and Economic Development and Commission for the Weather and Climate Enterprise." Saturday Night Banquet Speaker: Dr. Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux An applied climatologist by training, Dr. Dupigny-Giroux's research interests intersect a number of interdisciplinary fields including hydroclimatic natural hazards and climate literacy as well as the use of remote sensing and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) in the fields of spatial climate and land-surface processes. In terms of hazards, she has examined the spectre of drought in both semiarid environments in northeast Brazil, as well as humid continental ones like northeastern North America. Earlier work in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association outlines the climatic underpinnings of drought in Vermont and shall be used as part of a national effort to develop a North American-wide definition of drought. Her recently published work includes guest editing a special issue of the journal Physical Geography, devoted to the theme of climate literacy. Other publications (e.g. Remote Sensing of Environment) delve into the use of multiangular imaging to examine drought stress in New England wetlands. Finally, Dr. Dupigny-Giroux is the lead editor of Historical climate variability and impacts in North America, the first monograph of its kind to deal with the use of documentary and other ancillary records in the analysis of climate variability and change. Dr. Dupigny-Giroux is also the State Climatologist for Vermont, a role which has allowed her to facilitate dialogue among meteorology, climatology, emergency management, agriculture, forestry and GIS users across the state. She continues to work closely with colleagues at these and other state agencies to better quantify the causal dynamic and impacts of floods, droughts and severe weather on Vermont’s physical landscape. Dr. Dupigny-Giroux teaches introductory courses in physical geography and geotechniques. Her intermediate and advanced level courses include topics on Climatology, Remote Sensing, Advanced GIS Applications, and Satellite Climatology and Land-Surfaces Processes. She holds a B.S. in Physical Geography and Development Studies from the University of Toronto (1989), an M.S.(1992) in Climatology and Hydrology and a Ph.D. (1996) in Climatology and Geographic Information Systems from McGill University." Sunday Morning Speaker: Meteorologist Kevin Skarupa "Meteorologist, Kevin Skarupa, can be seen weekdays from 5 to 7 a.m. on News 9 Daybreak with Erin Fehlau and Sean McDonald, then on News 9 at Noon. Kevin earned a meteorology degree from Lyndon State College in Vermont and currently holds both the AMS Television Seal of Approval and the Certified Broadcast Meteorologist seal. Kevin has also worked for KIMT in Mason City, Iowa; WPBF in West Palm Beach, Fla.; and WKRN in Nashville. If he looks familiar, it’s because Kevin worked at WMUR back in 1998 doing weekend weather under the name "Kevin Joseph." His favorite part of the job is visiting dozens of schools a year and talking with students about weather. The toughest part is the alarm clock, which goes off around 1 a.m. Kevin enjoys playing golf, running and watching sports. He and his wife Melissa (a Merrimack native) have a son, Levi, and miniature beagle, Shilo." Never been to the Northeastern Storm Conference? The Northeastern Storm Conference is the largest soley Student Run Conference in the entire country. It is put on by the Lyndon State College American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association club. For more information on the Northeastern Storm Conference and much much more visit our website on-line at http://apollo.lsc.vsc.edu/ams Any questions, comments or concerns regards to the 38th Annual Northeastern Storm Conference please feel free to email me [email protected] THANKS! James Lyndon State College AMS&NWA - Vice President
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