Izvestiya, Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 430–438 | Cite as

Tropospheric lapse rate and its relation to surface temperature from reanalysis data

  • I. I. Mokhov
  • M. G. Akperov


Estimates of the tropospheric lapse rate γ and analysis of its relation to the surface temperature T s in the annual cycle and interannual variability have been made using the global monthly mean data of the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis (1948–2001). The tropospheric lapse rate γ is about 6.1 K/km in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) as a whole and over the ocean and about 6.2 K/km over the continents. The value of γ decreases from 6.5 K/km at low latitudes to 4.5 K/km at polar latitudes. The values of dγ/dT s, the parameter of sensitivity of γ to the variation of T s for the NH in the interannual variability, are found to be about 0.04 km−1 (0.041 km−1 for the NH as a whole, 0.042 km−1 over the ocean, and 0.038 km−1 over the continents). This corresponds to an increase in γ of approximately 0.7% when the surface temperature of the NH is increased by 1 K. Estimates of dγ/dT s vary from about 0.05 km−1 in the subtropics to 0.10 km−1 at polar latitudes. When dγ/dT s is positive, the surface and tropospheric warming means a temperature decrease above a certain critical level H cr. The height of the level H cr with constant temperature, which is defined by the inverse value (dγ/dT s)−1, is about 25 km for the NH as a whole, i.e., above the tropopause. In the subtropics, H cr is about 20 km. At polar latitudes, H cr decreases to about 10 km. Positive values of dγ/dT s characterize a positive climatic feedback through the lapse rate and indicate a general decrease in the static stability of the troposphere during global warming. Along with a general tendency of γ to increase with rising T s, there are regional regimes with the opposite tendency, mainly over the ocean. The negative correlation of γ with T s is found over the oceanic tropics and midlatitudes, in particular, over the oceanic belt around Antarctica.


Lapse Rate Interannual Variability Annual Cycle Reanalysis Data Oceanic Physic 
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© Pleiades Publishing, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. I. Mokhov
    • 1
  • M. G. Akperov
    • 1
  1. 1.Oboukhov Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia

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