Advertisement

Climatic Change

, Volume 31, Issue 2–4, pp 185–221 | Cite as

Critical issues for long-term climate monitoring

  • Thomas R. Karl
  • Vernon E. Derr
  • David R. Easterling
  • Chris K. Folland
  • David J. Hofmann
  • Sydney Levitus
  • Neville Nicholls
  • David E. Parker
  • Gregory W. Withee
Article

Abstract

Even after extensive re-working of past data, in many instances we are incapable of resolving important aspects concerning climate change and variability. Virtually every monitoring system and data set requires better data quality, continuity, and homogeneity if we expect to conclusively answer questions of interest to both scientists and policy-makers. This is a result of the fact that long-term meteorological data, (both satellite and conventional) both now and in the past, are and have been collected primarily for weather prediction, and only in some cases, to describe the current climate. Long-term climate monitoring, capable of resolving decade-to-century scale changes in climate, requires different strategies of operation. Furthermore, the continued degradation of conventional surface-based observing systems in many countries (both developed and developing) is an ominous sign with respect to sustaining present capabilities into the future. Satellite-based observing platforms alone will not, and cannot, provide all the necessary measurements.

Moreover, it is clear that for satellite measurements to be useful in long-term climate monitoring much wiser implementation and monitoring practices must be undertaken to avoid problems of data inhomogeneity that currently plague space-based measurements. Continued investment in data analyses to minimize time-varying biases and other data quality problems from historical data are essential if we are to adequately understand climate change, but they will never replace foresight with respect to ongoing and planned observing systems required for climate monitoring. Fortunately, serious planning for a Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) is now underway that provides an opportunity to rectify the current crisis.

Keywords

Plague Weather Prediction Satellite Measurement Current Crisis Past Data 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Antonov, J. I.: 1993, ‘Linear Trends of Temperature at Intermediate and Deep Layer of the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans: 1957-1981’,J. Clim. 6, 1928–1942.Google Scholar
  2. Atwood, D., Freely, R., and Wanninkhof, R.: 1993, ‘The Role of the Ocean in Modulating Atmospheric CO2 Increases: Long Term Accuracy in Oceanic Inorganic Carbon Measurements’,NOAA Data Quality and Continuity Program: Issues and Status V. 1, No. 3.Google Scholar
  3. Balling, R. C.: 1993, ‘Global Temperature Data’, Research and Exploration, Publication of theNational Geographic Society 9, 201–207.Google Scholar
  4. Bindoff, N. L. and Church, J. A.: 1992, ‘Warming of the Water Column in the Southwest Pacific Ocean’,Nature 357, 59–62.Google Scholar
  5. Chapman, W. L. and Walsh, J. E.: 1993, ‘Recent Variations of Sea Ice and Air Temperature in High Latitudes’,Bull. Amer. Met. Soc. 74, 33–46.Google Scholar
  6. Cardone, V. J., Greenwood, J. G., and Cane, M. A.: 1990, ‘On Trends in Historical Marine Data’,J. Clim. 3, 113–127.Google Scholar
  7. Cess, R. D., Zhang, M. H., Minnis, P., Corsetti, L., Dutton, E. G., Forgan, B. W., Garber, D. P., Gates, W. L., Hack, J. J., Harrison, E. F., Jing, X., Kiehl, J. T., Long, C. N., Morcrette, J.-J., Potter, G. L., Ramanathan, V., Subasilar, B., Whitlock, C. H., Young, D. F., and Zhou, Y.: 1995, ‘Absorption of Solar Radiation by Clouds: Observations versus Models’,Science 267, 496–499.Google Scholar
  8. Charlson, R. J., Langner, J., and Rodhe, H.: 1990, ‘Sulphate Aerosol and Climate’,Nature 348, 22.Google Scholar
  9. Charlson, R. J., Langner, J., Rodhe, H., Leovy, C. B., and Warren, S. G.: 1991, ‘Perturbation of the Northern Hemisphere Radiative Balance by Backscattering from Anthropogenic Sulfate Aerosols’,Tellus 43AB, 152–163.Google Scholar
  10. Charlson, R. J., Schwartz, S. E., Hales, J. M., Cess, R. D., Coakley, J. A. Jr., Hansen, J. E., and Hofmann, D. J.: 1992, ‘Climate Forcing by Anthropogenic Aerosols’,Science 255, 423–430.Google Scholar
  11. Christy, J. R., Spencer, R. W., and McNider, R. T.: 1995, ‘Reducing Noise in the MSU Daily Lower Tropospheric Global Temperature Data Set’,J. Clim., (in press).Google Scholar
  12. Ellett, D. J. and Blindheim, J.: 1992, ‘Climate and Hydrographic Variability in the ICES Area During the 1980's,Int. Counc. Explor. Sea 195, 11–31.Google Scholar
  13. Elliott, W. P. and Gaffen, D. J.: 1991, ‘On the Utility of Radiosonde Humidity Archives for Climate Studies’,Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 72, 1507–1520.Google Scholar
  14. Elliott, W. P. and Gaffen, D. J.: 1993, ‘Upper Air Processing Changes’,NOAA Data Quality and Continuity Program: Issues and Status V. 1, No. 2.Google Scholar
  15. Folland, C. K.: 1988, ‘Numerical Models of the Raingauge Exposure Problem, Field Experiments and an Improved Collector Design’,Q. J. Roy. Meteorol. Soc. 114, 1485–1516.Google Scholar
  16. Folland, C. K. and Parker, D. E.: 1995, ‘Correction of Instrumental Biases in Historical Sea Surface Temperature Data Using a Physical Approach’,Q. J. Roy. Meteorol. Soc. 121, 319–367.Google Scholar
  17. Folland, C. K., Reynolds, R. W., Gordon, M., and Parker, D. E.: 1993, ‘A Study of Six Operational Sea Surface Temperature Analyses’,J. Clim. 6, 96–113.Google Scholar
  18. Gaffen, D.: 1994, ‘Temporal Inhomogeneities in Radiosonde Temperature Records’,J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 99, 3667–3676.Google Scholar
  19. Groisman, P. Ya. and Easterling, D. R.: 1994, ‘Variability and Trends of Total Precipitation and Snowfall over the United States and Canada’,J. Clim. 7, 184–205.Google Scholar
  20. Groisman, P. Ya., Karl, T. R., and Knight, R. W.: 1994, ‘Observed Impact of Snow Cover on the Heat Balance and the Rise of Continental Spring Temperatures’,Science 263, 198–200.Google Scholar
  21. Hambrey, M. and Alean, J.: 1992,Glaciers, Cambridge University Press, p. 208.Google Scholar
  22. Hansen, J., Rossow, W., Carlson, B., Lacis, A., Travis, L., DelGenio, A., Fung, I., Cairns, B., Mishchenko, M., and Sato, M.: 1995, ‘Low-cost Long-term Monitoring of Global Climate Forcings and Feedbacks’,Clim. Change 31, 247–271 (this issue).Google Scholar
  23. Hansen, J., Lacis, A., Ruedy, R., Sato, M., and Wilson, H.: 1993, ‘How Sensitive is the World's Climate?’, Research and Exploration, Publication of theNational Geographic Society 9, 142–158.Google Scholar
  24. Huang, S., Pollock, H. N., and Shen, P. Y.: 1994, ‘Advantages and Limitations of Reconstructing a Ground Surface Temperature History from Borehole Temperatures’, Abstracts, AGU Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting, EOS, 1994.Google Scholar
  25. IPCC: 1990,Climate Change: The IPCC Scientific Assessment, Houghton, J. T., Jenkins, G. L., and Ephraums, J. J. (eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., 365 pp.Google Scholar
  26. IPCC: 1992,Climate Change, 1992, Supplementary Report, WMO/UNEP, Houghton, J. T., Callander, B. A., and Varney, S. K. (eds.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 62-64.Google Scholar
  27. Karl, T. R.: 1993, ‘Missing Pieces of the Puzzle’, Research and Exploration, Publication of theNational Geographic Society 9, 234–249.Google Scholar
  28. Karl, T. R., Jones, P. D., Kukla, G.et al.: 1993a, ‘A New Perspective on Global Warming: Asymmetric Increases of Day and Night Temperatures’,Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 74, 1007–1023.Google Scholar
  29. Karl, T. R., Knight, R. W., Kukla, G., and Gavin, J.: 1995, ‘Evidence for Radiative Effects of Anthropogenic Sulfate Aerosols in the Observed Climate Record’, Dahlem Konferenzen,Aerosol Forcing of Climate, John Wiley & sons, Ltd., pp. 363-382.Google Scholar
  30. Karl, T. R., Quayle, R. G., and Groisman, P. Y.: 1993b, ‘Detecting Climate Variations and Change: New Challenges for Observing and Data Management Systems’,J. Clim. 6, 1481–1494.Google Scholar
  31. Karl, T. R. and Steurer, P. M.: 1990, ‘Increased Cloudiness in the United States During the First Half of the Twentieth Century: Fact or Fiction?’,Geophys. Res. Lett. 17, 1925–1928.Google Scholar
  32. Karl, T. R., Williams, C. N. Jr., and Young, P. J.: 1986, ‘A Model to Estimate the Time of Observation Bias Associated with Monthly Mean Maximum, Minimum, and Mean Temperatures for the United States’,J. Clim. Appl. Met. 25, 145–160.Google Scholar
  33. Keeling, R., Najjar, R., Bender, M. L., and Tans, P. P.: 1993, ‘What Atmospheric Oxygen Measurements Can Tell Us about the Global Carbon Cycle’,Global Biogeochem. Cycles 7, 37–67.Google Scholar
  34. Keeling, R. R. and Shertz: 1992, ‘Seasonal and Interannual Variations in Atmospheric Oxygen and Implications of the Global Carbon Cycle’,Nature 358,Google Scholar
  35. Klein, S. A. and Hartmann, D. L.: 1993, ‘Spurious Changes in the ISCCP Data’,Geophys. Res. Lett. 20, 455–458.Google Scholar
  36. Komhyr, W. D., Grass, R. D., and Leonard, R. K.: 1989, ‘Dobson Spectrophotometer 83: A Standard for Total Ozone Measurements, 1962-1987’,J. Geophys. Res. 94, 9847–9861.Google Scholar
  37. Legates, D. R. and DeLiberty, T. L.: 1993, ‘Measurement Biases in the United States Raingage Network’,Proc. Eighth Symposium on Meteorological Observation and Instrumentation, Anaheim, California, Amer. Meteor. Soc., J48-J51.Google Scholar
  38. Levitus, S., Antonov, J., Zhou, X., Dooley, H., Selemenov, K., and Tereschenkov, V.: 1994, ‘Decadal-Scale Variability of the North Atlantic Ocean’, inNatural Climate Variability on Decade-to-Century Time Scales, Press National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  39. Levitus, S. and Boyer, T.: 1994,World Ocean Atlas, 1993, 5,Interannual Variability of the Upper Ocean Structure, NOAA Atlas Series, (in preparation).Google Scholar
  40. Lindzen, R.: 1993, ‘Absence of Scientific Basis’, Research and Exploration, Publication of theNational Geographic Society 9, 191–200.Google Scholar
  41. McGuffie, K. and Henderson-Sellers, A.: 1993, ‘Cloudiness Trends This Century from Surface Observations’, Presented at the NOAA/DOE MINIMAX Workshop, Sep 27-30, 1993, College Park Md, and in ReviewAtmos. Res. Google Scholar
  42. Michaels, P.: 1993, ‘Benign Greenhouse’, Research and Exploration, Publication of theNational Geographic Society 9, 222–233.Google Scholar
  43. Mikolajewicz, U., Maier-Reimer, E., and Barnett, T. P.: 1993, ‘Acoustic Detection of Greenhouse-Induced Climate Changes in the Presence of Slow Fluctuations of the Thermohaline Circulation’,J. Phys. Oceanogr. 23, 1099–1109.Google Scholar
  44. Minnis, P., Harrison, E. F., Stowe, L. L., Gibson, G. G., Denn, F. M., Doelling, D. R., and Smith, W. L. Jr.: 1993, ‘Radiative Forcing by the Mount Pinatubo Eruption’,Science 259, 1411–1414.Google Scholar
  45. Mohnen, V. A., Goldstein, W., and Wang, W.-C.: 1993, ‘Tropospheric Ozone and Climate Change’,J. Air and Waste Managem. Assoc. 43, 1332–1344.Google Scholar
  46. Munk, W. H.: 1989, ‘Global Warming: Detection by Long-Path Acoustic Travel Times’,Oceanography 2, 40–41.Google Scholar
  47. Munk, W. H. and Forbes, A. M. G.: 1989, ‘Global Ocean Warming: An Acoustic Measure?’,J. Phys. Oceanogr. 19, 1765–1778.Google Scholar
  48. National Research Council: 1993,Ocean-Atmosphere Observations Supporting Short-Term Climate Predictions, National Academy Press, Washington D.C., (in press).Google Scholar
  49. National Research Council: 1994,Solar Influences on Global Change, National Academy Press, Washington D.C.Google Scholar
  50. Oltmans, S. J. and Hofmann, D. J.: 1995, ‘Increase in Lower-Stratospheric Water Vapour over Boulder, Colorado from 1981 to 1994’,Nature March 9, 1995.Google Scholar
  51. Parker, D. E.: 1993a, ‘Glacial Retreat in the Pyrenees’,Weather 48, 116–117.Google Scholar
  52. Parker, D. E. and Cox, D. I.: 1994, ‘Towards a Consistent Global Climatological Rawinsonde Data-Base’, Accepted byInternat. J. Climatol. Google Scholar
  53. Penner, J. E., Dickinson, R. E., and O'Neill, C. A.: 1992, ‘Effects of Aerosol from Biomass Burning on the Global Radiation Budget’,Science 256, 1432–1433.Google Scholar
  54. Penner, J. E., Eddleman, H., and Novakov, T.: 1993, ‘Towards the Development of a Global Inventory of Black Carbon Emissions’,Atmos. Environ., (in press).Google Scholar
  55. Price, C.: 1993, ‘Global Surface Temperatures and the Atmospheric Electrical Circuit’,Geophys. Res. Lett. 20, 1363–1366.Google Scholar
  56. Quayle, R. G., Easterling, D. R., Karl, T. R., and Hughes, P. Y.: 1991, ‘Effects of Recent Thermometer Changes in the Cooperative Station Network’,Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 72, 1718–1723.Google Scholar
  57. Reynolds, R. W.: 1993, ‘An Improved Real-Time Global Sea Surface Temperature Analysis’,J. Clim. 6, 114–119.Google Scholar
  58. Robinson, D. A., Dewey, K. F., and Heim, R. R. Jr.: 1993, ‘Global Snow Cover Monitoring: An Update’,Bull. Amer. Met. Soc. 74, 1689–1696.Google Scholar
  59. Rudolf, B.: 1993, ‘Management and Analysis of Precipitation Data on a Routine Basis’,Contribution to Symposium on Precipitation and Evaporation, Bratislava, 8 pp.Google Scholar
  60. Santer, B. D., Taylor, K. E., Wigley, T. M. L., Penner, J. E., Jones, P. D., and Cubasch, V.: 1995, ‘Towards the Detection and Attribution of an Anthropogenic Effect on Climate’,Clim. Dyn., in press.Google Scholar
  61. Schlesinger, M. E.: 1993, ‘Greenouse Policy’, Research and Exploration, a Publication of theNational Geographic Scoiety 9, 159–172.Google Scholar
  62. Schluessel, P., Emery, W. J., Grassl, H., and Mannen, t.: 1990, ‘On the Bulk-Skin Temperature Difference and Its Impact on Satellite Remote Sensing of Sea Surface Temperatures’,J. Geophys. Res. 95, 13341–13356.Google Scholar
  63. Schneider, S. H.: 1993, ‘Degree of Certainty’, Research and Exploration, Publication on theNational Geographic Society 9, 173–190.Google Scholar
  64. Sevruk, B.: 1982, ‘Methods of Correcting for Systematic Error in Point Precipitation Measurements for Operational Use’,Hydrology Rep. 21, WMO 589.Google Scholar
  65. Shukla, J.: 1993, ‘On the Initiation and Persistence of the Sahel Drought’,Decadal-to-Century-Scale Climate Variability, National Academy Press, (in press).Google Scholar
  66. Slack, J. R. and Landwehr, J. C.: 1992, ‘Hydro-Climatic Data Network (HCDN): A.U.S. Geological Survey Streamflow Data Set for the United States for the Study of Climate Variations, 1874-1988’, OFR 92-129, USGS Water Supply Paper No. 2406.Google Scholar
  67. Spencer, R. W.: 1993, ‘Global Oceanic Precipitation from the MSU During 1979-91 and Comparisons to Other Climatologies’,J. Clim. 6, 1301–1326.Google Scholar
  68. Spencer, R. W. and Christy, J. R.: 1990, ‘Precise Monitoring of Global Temperature Trends from Satellites’,Science 247, 1558–1562.Google Scholar
  69. Tans, P. P., Fung, I. Y., and Takahashi, T.: 1990, ‘Observational Constraints on the Global Atmospheric CO2 Budget’,Science 247, 1431–1438.Google Scholar
  70. Tans, P. P., Berry, J. A., and Keeling, R. F.: 1993, ‘Oceanic13C/12C Observations: A New Window on Ocean CO2 Uptake’,Global Biogeochem. Cycles 7, 353–368.Google Scholar
  71. Taylor, K. E. and Penner, J. E.: 1994, ‘Response of the Climate System to Atmospheric Aerosols and Greenhouse Gases’,Nature 369, 734–737.Google Scholar
  72. Thiele, O. W.: 1993, ‘Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and Rainfall Validation’, inAnalysis Methods of Precipitation on a Global Scale, Report of a GEWEX Workshop, Koblenz, Germany, organized by theGlobal Precipitation Climatology Centre, WCRP-81, WMO-TD-No.558, ICSU/IOC/WMO, A/56.Google Scholar
  73. Tihay, J. P.: 1990, ‘Glaciers: le Lent Recul [Glaciers: The Slow Retreat]’,Pyrénées Magazine 8, 24–31, (in French), English translation available in National Meteorological Library, Bracknell, U.K.Google Scholar
  74. Wang, W.-C., Zhuang, Y.-C., and Bojkov, R. D.: 1993, ‘Climate Implications of Observed Changes in Ozone Vertical Distributions at Middle and High Latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere’,Geophys. Res. Lett. 20, 1567–1570.Google Scholar
  75. Williams, E. R.: 1992, ‘The Schumann Resonance: A Global Tropical Thermometer’,Science 256, 1184–1187.Google Scholar
  76. Wright, D.: 1993,4,000,000 XBTs: Can They Be Wrong?, Report of the 2nd NOAA Data Quality and Continuity Workshop, April, 1993, Rockville, MD.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas R. Karl
    • 1
  • Vernon E. Derr
    • 2
  • David R. Easterling
    • 1
  • Chris K. Folland
    • 3
  • David J. Hofmann
    • 2
  • Sydney Levitus
    • 4
  • Neville Nicholls
    • 5
  • David E. Parker
    • 3
  • Gregory W. Withee
    • 6
  1. 1.NOAA/NESDIS/NCDCAshevilleUSA
  2. 2.NOAA/OAR/ERLBoulderUSA
  3. 3.Hadley Centre/UKMOBracknellU.K.
  4. 4.NOAA/NESDIS/NODCWashington D.C.USA
  5. 5.BMRCMelbourneAustralia
  6. 6.NOAA/NESDISSuitlandUSA

Personalised recommendations