Advertisement

Consistency of Modeled and Observed Temperature Trends in the Tropical Troposphere

  • B. D. Santer
  • P. W. Thorne
  • L. Haimberger
  • K. E. Taylor
  • T. M. L. Wigley
  • J. R. Lanzante
  • S. Solomon
  • M. Free
  • P. J. Gleckler
  • P. D. Jones
  • T. R. Karl
  • S. A. Klein
  • C. Mears
  • D. Nychka
  • G. A. Schmidt
  • S. C. Sherwood
  • F. J. Wentz
Chapter

Abstract

Early versions of satellite and radiosonde datasets suggested that the tropical surface had warmed more than the troposphere, while climate models consistently showed tropospheric amplification of surface warming in response to human-caused increases in greenhouse gases (GHGs). We revisit such comparisons here using new observational estimates of surface and tropospheric temperature changes. We find that there is no longer a serious discrepancy between modeled and observed trends in the tropics. Our results contradict a recent claim that all simulated temperature trends in the tropical troposphere are inconsistent with observations. This claim was based on the use of older radiosonde and satellite datasets and on two methodological errors: the neglect of observational trend uncertainties introduced by interannual climate variability and application of an inappropriate statistical “consistency test”.

This emerging reconciliation of models and observations has two primary explanations. First, because of changes in the treatment of buoy and satellite information, new surface temperature datasets yield slightly reduced tropical warming relative to earlier versions. Second, recently developed satellite and radiosonde datasets now show larger warming of the tropical lower troposphere. In the case of a new satellite dataset from Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) , enhanced warming is due to an improved procedure of adjusting for inter-satellite biases. When the RSS-derived tropospheric temperature trend is compared with four different observed estimates of surface temperature change, the surface warming is invariably amplified in the tropical troposphere, consistent with model results. Even if we use data from a second satellite dataset with smaller tropospheric warming than in RSS, observed tropical lapse rates are not significantly different from those in all model simulations.

Our results contradict a recent claim that all simulated temperature trends in the tropical troposphere and in tropical lapse rates are inconsistent with observations. This claim was based on the use of older radiosonde and satellite datasets and on two methodological errors: the neglect of observational trend uncertainties introduced by interannual climate variability and application of an inappropriate statistical “consistency test”.

References

  1. Allen, R.J., and Sherwood, S.C. 2008a. Utility of Radiosonde Wind Data in Representing Climatological Variations of Tropospheric Temperature and Baroclinicity in the Western Tropical Pacific. Journal of Climate (in press).Google Scholar
  2. ———. 2008b. Warming Maximum in the Tropical Upper Troposphere Deduced from Thermal Winds. Nature Geoscience (in press).Google Scholar
  3. Brohan, P., J.J. Kennedy, I. Harris, S.F.B. Tett, and P.D. Jones. 2006. Uncertainty Estimates in Regional and Global Observed Temperature Changes: A New Dataset from 1850. Journal of Geophysical Research 111: D12106. https://doi.org/10.1029/2005JD006548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Christy, J.R., R.W. Spencer, and W.D. Braswell. 2000. MSU Tropospheric Temperatures: Data Set Construction and Radiosonde comparisons. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 17: 1153–1170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Christy, J.R., R.W. Spencer, W.B. Norris, W.D. Braswell, and D.E. Parker. 2003. Error Estimates of Version 5.0 of MSU/AMSU Bulk Atmospheric Temperatures. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology 20: 613–629.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Christy, J.R., W.B. Norris, R.W. Spencer, and J.J. Hnilo. 2007. Tropospheric Temperature Change Since 1979 from Tropical Radiosonde and Satellite Measurements. Journal of Geophysical Research 112: D06102. https://doi.org/10.1029/2005JD006881.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Douglass, D.H., B.D. Pearson, and S.F. Singer. 2004. Altitude Dependence of Atmospheric Temperature trends: Climate Models Versus Observations. Geophysical Research Letters 31: L13208. https://doi.org/10.1029/2004/GL020103.Google Scholar
  8. Douglass, D.H., J.R. Christy, B.D. Pearson, and S.F. Singer. 2007. A Comparison of Tropical Temperature Trends with Model Predictions. International Journal of Climatology 27. https://doi.org/10.1002/joc.1651.
  9. Durre, I., R. Vose, and D.B. Wuertz. 2006. Overview of the Integrated Global Radiosonde Archive. Journal of Climate 19: 53–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Forster, P.M., and K.E. Taylor. 2006. Climate Forcings and Climate Sensitivities Diagnosed from Coupled Climate Model Integrations. Journal of Climate 19: 6181–6194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Forster, P.M., G. Bodeker, R. Schofield, and S. Solomon. 2007. Effects of Ozone Cooling in the Tropical Lower Stratosphere and Upper Troposphere. Geophysical Research Letters 34: L23813. https://doi.org/10.1029/2007GL031994.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Free, M., et al. 2005. Radiosonde Atmospheric Temperature Products for Assessing Climate (RATPAC): A New Dataset of Large-Area Anomaly Time Series. Journal of Geophysical Research 110: D22101. https://doi.org/10.1029/2005JD006169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gaffen, D., et al. 2000. Multi-decadal Changes in the Vertical Temperature Structure of the Tropical Troposphere. Science 287: 1239–1241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Haimberger, L. 2007. Homogenization of Radiosonde Temperature Time Series Using Innovation Statistics. Journal of Climate 20: 1377–1403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Haimberger, L., C. Tavolato, and S. Sperka. 2008. Towards Elimination of the Warm Bias in Historic Radiosonde Temperature Records – Some New Results from a Comprehensive Intercomparison of Upper Air Data. Journal of Climate (in press).Google Scholar
  16. Hegerl, G.C., et al. 2007. Understanding and Attributing Climate Change. In Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, ed. S. Solomon, D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor, and H.L. Miller. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). 1996. Summary for Policy-Makers. In Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change, Contribution of Working Group I to the Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, ed. J.T. Houghton et al. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. ———. 2001. Summary for Policy-Makers. In Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, ed. J.T. Houghton et al. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. ———. 2007. Summary for Policy-Makers. In Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, ed. S. Solomon, D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor, and H.L. Miller. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Karl, T.R., S.J. Hassol, C.D. Miller, and W.L. Murray (eds.). 2006. Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences. A Report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, p. 164.Google Scholar
  21. Lanzante, J.R. 2005. A Cautionary Note on the Use of Error Bars. Journal of Climate 18: 3699–3703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. ———. 2007. Diagnosis of Radiosonde Vertical Temperature Trend Profiles: Comparing the Influence of Data Homogenization Versus Model Forcings. Journal of Climate 20 (21): 5356–5364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lanzante, J.R., S.A. Klein, and D.J. Seidel. 2003. Temporal Homogenization of Monthly Radiosonde Temperature Data. Part II: Trends, Sensitivities, and MSU Comparison. Journal of Climate 16: 241–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lanzante, J.R., T.C. Peterson, F.J. Wentz, and K.Y Vinnikov. 2006. What Do Observations Indicate About the Change of Temperatures in the Atmosphere and at the Surface Since the Advent of Measuring Temperatures Vertically? In Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences, ed. T.R. Karl, S.J. Hassol, C.D. Miller, and W.L. Murray. A Report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research.Google Scholar
  25. Manabe, S., and R.J. Stouffer. 1980. Sensitivity of a Global Climate Model to an Increase of CO2 Concentration in the Atmosphere. Journal of Geophysical Research 85: 5529–5554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McCarthy, M.P., H.A. Titchner, P.W. Thorne, Tett SFB, L. Haimberger, and D.E. Parker. 2008. Assessing Bias and Uncertainty in the HadAT Adjusted Radiosonde Climate Record. Journal of Climate 21: 817–832.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mears, C.A., and F.J. Wentz. 2005. The Effect of Diurnal Correction on Satellite-Derived Lower Tropospheric Temperature. Science 309: 1548–1551.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mears, C.A., M.C. Schabel, and F.J. Wentz. 2003. A Reanalysis of the MSU Channel 2 Tropospheric Temperature Record. Journal of Climate 16: 3650–3664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mears, C.A., C.E. Forest, R.W. Spencer, R.S. Vose, and R.W. Reynolds. 2006. What Is Our Understanding of the Contributions Made by Observational or Methodological Un-certainties to the Previously-Reported Vertical Differences in Temperature Trends? In Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences, ed. T.R. Karl, S.J. Hassol, C.D. Miller, and W.L. Murray. A Report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research.Google Scholar
  30. Mears, C.A., B.D. Santer, F.J. Wentz, K.E. Taylor, and M.F. Wehner. 2007. Relationship Between Temperature and Precipitable Water Changes Over Tropical Oceans. Geophysical Research Letters 34: L24709. https://doi.org/10.1029/2007GL031936.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mitchell, J.F.B., et al. 2001. Detection of Climate Change and Attribution of Causes. In Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, ed. J.T. Houghton et al., 881. Cambridge, UK/New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  32. NRC (National Research Council). 2000. Reconciling Observations of Global Temperature Change. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. 85 pp.Google Scholar
  33. ———. 2005. Radiative Forcing of Climate Change: Expanding the Concept and Addressing Uncertainties, 168. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  34. Paul, F., A. Kaab, M. Maisch, T. Kellenberger, and W. Haeberli. 2004. Rapid Disintegration of Alpine Glaciers Observed with Satellite Data. Geophysical Research Letters 31: L21402. https://doi.org/10.1029/2004GL020816.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Randel, W.J., and F. Wu. 2006. Biases in Stratospheric and Tropospheric Temperature Trends Derived from Historical Radiosonde Data. Journal of Climate 19: 2094–2104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rayner, N.A., et al. 2003. Global Analyses of Sea Surface Temperature, Sea Ice, and Night Marine Air Temperature Since the Late Nineteenth Century. Journal of Geophysical Research 108: 4407. https://doi.org/10.1029/2002JD002670. HadISST1 data are available at http://www.hadobs.org/
  37. ———. 2006. Improved Analyses of Changes and Uncertainties in Marine Temperature Measured in Situ Since the Mid-nineteenth Century: The HadSST2 Dataset. Journal of Climate 19: 446–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Santer, B.D., T.M.L. Wigley, T.P. Barnett, and E. Anyamba. 1996. Detection of Climate Change and Attribution of Causes. In Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change, Contribution of Working Group I to the Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, ed. J.T. Houghton et al., 572. Cambridge, UK/New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Santer, B.D., et al. 1999. Uncertainties in Observationally Based Estimates of Temperature Change in the Free Atmosphere. Journal of Geophysical Research 104: 6305–6333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. ———. 2000a. Statistical Significance of Trends and Trend Differences in Layer-Average Atmospheric Temperature Time Series. Journal of Geophysical Research 105: 7337–7356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. ———. 2000b. Interpreting Differential Temperature Trends at the Surface and in the Lower Troposphere. Science 287: 1227–1232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. ———. 2001. Accounting for the Effects of Volcanoes and ENSO in Comparisons of Modeled and Observed Temperature Trends. Journal of Geophysical Research 106: 28033–28059.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. ———. 2003. Contributions of Anthropogenic and Natural Forcing to Recent Tropopause Height Changes. Science 301: 479–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. ———. 2005. Amplification of Surface Temperature Trends and Variability in the Tropical Atmosphere. Science 309: 1551–1556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Santer, B.D., J.E. Penner, and P.W. Thorne. 2006. How Well Can the Observed Vertical Temperature Changes Be Reconciled with Our Understanding of the Causes of These Changes? In Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences, ed. T.R. Karl, S.J Hassol., C.D. Miller, W.L. Murray. A Report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research.Google Scholar
  46. Santer, B.D., et al. 2007. Identification of Human-Induced Changes in Atmospheric Moisture Content. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104: 15248–15253.Google Scholar
  47. Seidel, D.J., et al. 2004. Uncertainty in Signals of Large-Scale Climate Variations in Radiosonde and Satellite Upper-Air Temperature Data Sets. Journal of Climate 17: 2225–2240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sherwood, S.C. 2007. Simultaneous Detection of Climate Change and Observing Biases in a Network with Incomplete Sampling. Journal of Climate 20: 4047–4062.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sherwood, S.C., J.R. Lanzante, and C.L. Meyer. 2005. Radiosonde Daytime Biases and Late- 20th Century Warming. Science 309: 1556–1559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sherwood, S.C., C.L. Meyer, R.J. Allen, and H.A. Titchner. 2008. Robust Tropospheric Warming Revealed by Iteratively Homogenized Radiosonde Data. Journal of Climate. https://doi.org/10.1175/2008JCLI2320.1.
  51. Singer, S.F. 2001. Global Warming: An Insignificant Trend? Science 292: 1063–1064.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. ———. 2008. In Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate: Summary for Policymakers of the Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, ed. S.F. Singer. Chicago: The Heartland Institute.Google Scholar
  53. Smith, T.M., and R.W. Reynolds. 2005. A Global Merged Land and Sea Surface Temperature Reconstruction Based on Historical Observations (1880–1997). Journal of Climate 18: 2021–2036.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Smith, T.M., R.W. Reynolds, T.C. Peterson, and J. Lawrimore. 2008. Improvements to NOAA’s Historical Merged Land-Ocean Surface Temperature Analysis (1880–2006). Journal of Climate (in press).Google Scholar
  55. Spencer, R.W., and J.R. Christy. 1990. Precise Monitoring of Global Temperature Trends from Satellites. Science 247: 1558–1562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Storch, H., and F.W. Zwiers. 1999. Statistical Analysis in Climate Research, 484. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Thiébaux, H.J., and F.W. Zwiers. 1984. The Interpretation and Estimation of Effective Sample Size. Journal of Meteorology and Applied Climatology 23: 800–811.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Thorne, P.W., et al. 2005a. Uncertainties in Climate Trends: Lessons from Upper-Air Temperature Records. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 86: 1437–1442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. ———. 2005b. Revisiting Radiosonde Upper-Air Temperatures from 1958 to 2002. Journal of Geophysical Research 110: D18105. https://doi.org/10.1029/2004JD005753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. ———. 2007. Tropical Vertical Temperature Trends: A Real Discrepancy? Geophysical Research Letters 34: L16702. https://doi.org/10.1029/2007GL029875.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Titchner, H.A., P.W. Thorne, M.P. McCarthy, S.F.B. Tett, L. Haimberger, and D.E. Parker. 2008. Critically Reassessing Tropospheric Temperature Trends from Radiosondes Using Realistic Validation Experiments. Journal of Climate. https://doi.org/10.1175/2008JCLI2419.1.
  62. Trenberth, K.E., et al. 2007. Observations: Surface and Atmospheric Climate Change. In Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, ed. S. Solomon, D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor, and H.L. Miller. Cambridge, UK/New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Uppala, S.M., et al. 2005. The ERA-40 Reanalysis. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 131: 2961–3012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Vinnikov, K.Y., and N.C. Grody. 2003. Global Warming Trend of Mean Tropospheric Temperature Observed by Satellites. Science 302: 269–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Vinnikov, K.Y., et al. 2006. Temperature Trends at the Surface and the Troposphere. Journal of Geophysical Research 111: D03106. https://doi.org/10.1029/2005jd006392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wentz, F.J., and M. Schabel. 1998. Effects of Orbital Decay on Satellite-Derived Lower- Tropospheric Temperature Trends. Nature 394: 661–664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. ———. 2000. Precise Climate Monitoring Using Complementary Satellite Data Sets. Nature 403: 414–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wigley, T.M.L. 2006. Appendix A: Statistical Issues Regarding Trends. In Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences, ed. T.R. Karl, S.J. Hassol, C.D. Miller, W.L. Murray. A Report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research.Google Scholar
  69. Wigley, T.M.L., C.M. Ammann, B.D. Santer, and S.C.B. Raper. 2005. The Effect of Climate Sensitivity on the Response to Volcanic Forcing. Journal of Geophysical Research 110: D09107. https://doi.org/10.1029/2004/JD005557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wilks, D.S. 1995. Statistical Methods in the Atmospheric Sciences, 467 pp. San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  71. Zho, C.-Z., et al. 2006. Recalibration of Microwave Sounding Unit for Climate Studies Using Simultaneous Nadir Overpasses. Journal of Geophysical Research 111: D19114. https://doi.org/10.1029/2005JD006798.
  72. Zwiers, F.W., and H. von Storch. 1995. Taking Serial Correlation into Account in Tests of the Mean. Journal of Climate 8: 336–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. D. Santer
    • 1
  • P. W. Thorne
    • 2
  • L. Haimberger
    • 3
  • K. E. Taylor
    • 1
  • T. M. L. Wigley
    • 4
  • J. R. Lanzante
    • 5
  • S. Solomon
    • 6
  • M. Free
    • 7
  • P. J. Gleckler
    • 1
  • P. D. Jones
    • 8
  • T. R. Karl
    • 9
  • S. A. Klein
    • 1
  • C. Mears
    • 10
  • D. Nychka
    • 4
  • G. A. Schmidt
    • 11
  • S. C. Sherwood
    • 12
  • F. J. Wentz
    • 10
  1. 1.Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI)Lawrence Livermore National LaboratoryLivermoreUSA
  2. 2.U.K. Meteorological Office Hadley CentreExeterUK
  3. 3.Department of Meteorology and GeophysicsUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  4. 4.National Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA
  5. 5.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics LaboratoryPrincetonUSA
  6. 6.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Earth System Research Laboratory, Chemical Sciences DivisionBoulderUSA
  7. 7.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Air Resources LaboratorySilver SpringUSA
  8. 8.Climatic Research Unit, School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK
  9. 9.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Climatic Data CenterAshevilleUSA
  10. 10.Remote Sensing SystemsSanta RosaUSA
  11. 11.NASA/Goddard Institute for Space StudiesNew YorkUSA
  12. 12.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA

Personalised recommendations