Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Earth's lower atmosphere is warming, review of four decades of scientific literature concludes

Date:
November 16, 2010
Source:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Summary:
The troposphere, the lower part of the atmosphere closest to the Earth, is warming and this warming is broadly consistent with both theoretical expectations and climate models, according to a new scientific study that reviews the history of understanding of temperature changes and their causes in this key atmospheric layer.

Regions of the atmosphere.
Credit: NOAA

The troposphere, the lower part of the atmosphere closest to the Earth, is warming and this warming is broadly consistent with both theoretical expectations and climate models, according to a new scientific study that reviews the history of understanding of temperature changes and their causes in this key atmospheric layer.

Scientists at NOAA, the NOAA-funded Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites (CICS), the United Kingdom Met Office, and the University of Reading in the United Kingdom contributed to the paper, "Tropospheric Temperature Trends: History of an Ongoing Controversy," a review of four decades of data and scientific papers to be published by Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, a peer-reviewed journal.

The paper documents how, since the development of the very first climate models in the early 1960s, the troposphere has been projected to warm along with the Earth's surface because of the increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This expectation has not significantly changed even with major advances in climate models and is in accord with our basic physical understanding of atmospheric processes.

In the 1990s, observations did not show the troposphere, particularly in the tropics, to be warming, even though surface temperatures were rapidly warming. This lack of tropospheric warming was used by some to question both the reality of the surface warming trend and the reliability of climate models as tools. This new paper extensively reviews the relevant scientific analyses -- 195 cited papers, model results and atmospheric data sets -- and finds that there is no longer evidence for a fundamental discrepancy and that the troposphere is warming.

"Looking at observed changes in tropospheric temperature and climate model expectations over time, the current evidence indicates that no fundamental discrepancy exists, after accounting for uncertainties in both the models and observations," said Peter Thorne, a senior scientist with CICS in Asheville, N.C., and a senior researcher at North Carolina State University. CICS is a consortium jointly led by the University of Maryland and North Carolina State University.

This paper demonstrates the value of having various types of measurements -- from surface stations to weather balloons to satellites -- as well as multiple independent analyses of data from these observation systems.

"There is an old saying that a person with one watch always knows what time it is, but with two watches one is never sure," said Thomas Peterson, lead scientist at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. "The controversy started with the production of the first upper-air temperature 'watch' in 1990, and it was only later when multiple additional 'watches' were made by different 'manufacturers' that we learned that they were each a few minutes off. Although researchers all agree the temperature is increasing, they disagree how much."

And while this is the first comprehensive review of the scientific literature on this topic, it is not the last word on the tropospheric temperature trend.

"Looking to the future, it is only through robust and varied observations and data analyses that we can hope to adequately understand the tropospheric temperature trend," said Dian Seidel, a NOAA scientist at the Air Resources Laboratory, in Silver Spring, Md.

The study was funded by UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and NOAA.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Peter W. Thorne, John R. Lanzante, Thomas C. Peterson, Dian J. Seidel, Keith P. Shine. Tropospheric temperature trends: history of an ongoing controversy. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 2010; DOI: 10.1002/wcc.80

Cite This Page:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Earth's lower atmosphere is warming, review of four decades of scientific literature concludes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101116080321.htm>.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (2010, November 16). Earth's lower atmosphere is warming, review of four decades of scientific literature concludes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101116080321.htm
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Earth's lower atmosphere is warming, review of four decades of scientific literature concludes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101116080321.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Over 53 tons of rotting fish have been removed from Lake Cajititlan in western Jalisco state. Authorities say that the thousands of fish did not die of natural causes. (Sep. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — The alert warning for the area surrounding Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano was kept at orange on Tuesday, indicating increased unrest with greater potential for an eruption. Smoke is spewing from the volcano, and lava is spouting nearby. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 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