Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 215–227

Recent fluctuations of tropospheric temperature and water vapour content in the tropics


  • A. Hense
    • Meteorologisches InstitutUniversität Bonn
  • P. Krahe
    • Meteorologisches InstitutUniversität Bonn
  • H. Flohn
    • Meteorologisches InstitutUniversität Bonn

DOI: 10.1007/BF01054574

Cite this article as:
Hense, A., Krahe, P. & Flohn, H. Meteorl. Atmos. Phys. (1988) 38: 215. doi:10.1007/BF01054574


During the last decades the average temperature of the tropical troposphere (200/850 hPa layer) has steadily increased, between 1965 and 1984 by about 0.8°C in the whole equatorial belt. Data series from a section of individual stations verify this trend as seasonally constant, but decreasing from the equator towards both hemispheres. Further evidence is presented by selected mountain stations and glacier retreat in all equatorial mountains.

Above the equatorial Pacific, the same stations indicate an increase of moisture content in the middle troposphere (500/700 hPa layer) expressed in precipitable water as well as in relative humidity. This coincides with increasing sea surface temperature in the area around Indonesia and northern Australia. Above Africa the trend is (if real) quite patchy. Due to the short residence time of water vapour in the atmosphere the horizontal (zonal ) distances between its sources and sinks remain near 2000 km, which may explain, in addition to instrumental differences, large regional deviations.

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© Springer-Verlag 1988