Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Water Vapor Feedback Is Rapidly Warming Europe

Date:
November 9, 2005
Source:
American Geophysical Union
Summary:
A new report indicates that the vast majority of the rapid temperature increase recently observed in Europe is likely due to an unexpected greenhouse gas: water vapor. Elevated surface temperatures due to other greenhouse gases have enhanced water evaporation and contributed to a cycle that stimulates further surface temperature increases. The research could help to answer a long-debated Earth science question about whether the water cycle could strongly enhance greenhouse warming.

A new report indicates that the vast majority of the rapid temperature increase recently observed in Europe is likely due to an unexpected greenhouse gas: water vapor. Elevated surface temperatures due to other greenhouse gases have enhanced water evaporation and contributed to a cycle that stimulates further surface temperature increases, according to a report in Geophysical Research Letters. The research could help to answer a long-debated Earth science question about whether the water cycle could strongly enhance greenhouse warming.

Swiss researchers examined surface radiation measurements from 1995 to 2002 over the Alps in Central Europe and show strongly increasing total surface absorbed radiation, concurrent with rapidly increasing temperature. The authors, led by Rolf Philipona of the World Radiation Center in Davos, show experimentally that 70 percent of the rapid temperature increase is very likely caused by water vapor feedback. They indicate that remaining 30 percent is likely due to increasing manmade greenhouse gases.

The researchers analyzed temperature and humidity changes over Europe, which jumped nearly three times above the levels predicted by general circulation models in the past two decades. They provide observational evidence that large-scale weather patterns in Europe influence annual average temperatures uniformly, but weakly. They suggest that their combined observations indicate that the region is experiencing an increasing greenhouse effect and that the dominant part of the rising heat emitted from the Earth's atmosphere (longwave radiation) is due to water vapor increase.

After examining increased cloud cover to the north of the Alps and decreased cover to the south, the authors report that both sides of the mountain range experienced clear warming over the 1995-2002 period. While clouds are not entirely responsible for the warming, such findings correspond with previous cloud investigations showing that for midlatitudes, annual mean cloud cooling from the Sun (shortwave radiation) is roughly canceled by cloud warming caused by heat emitted by longwave radiation from the surface.

The strong increase of longwave radiation is shown in the study to be due to increasing cloudiness, rising temperature, rising water vapor, and above all to long-lived manmade greenhouse gases. The scientists' radiation measurements in the Alps show that the various inputs, or forcings, can be separated and that manmade greenhouse forcing is measurable at Earth's surface. Above all, their measurements demonstrate strong water vapor feedback that rapidly warms Central and Northeastern Europe, where sufficient water is available from plants and the surface, known as evapotranspiration.

###

The research was supported by the framework of the National Center of Competence in Research on Climate (NCCR Climate), an initiative funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Geophysical Union. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Geophysical Union. "Water Vapor Feedback Is Rapidly Warming Europe." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 November 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051109091359.htm>.
American Geophysical Union. (2005, November 9). Water Vapor Feedback Is Rapidly Warming Europe. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051109091359.htm
American Geophysical Union. "Water Vapor Feedback Is Rapidly Warming Europe." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051109091359.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 15, 2014) Pennsylvania-based Schramm is incorporating modern technology in its next generation oil-drigging rigs, making them smaller, safer and smarter. Ernest Scheyder reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

AFP (Apr. 14, 2014) To curb the growing numbers of feral cats in the US capital, the Washington Humane Society is encouraging residents to set traps and bring the animals to a sterilization clinic, after which they are released.. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins