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Upper tropospheric humidity changes under constant relative humidity

Gierens, Klaus and Eleftheratos, Kostas (2016) Upper tropospheric humidity changes under constant relative humidity. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP), 16, pp. 4159-4169. Copernicus Publications. DOI: 10.5194/acp-16-4159-2016 ISSN 1680-7316

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Official URL: http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/16/4159/2016/

Abstract

Theoretical derivations are given on the change of upper tropospheric humidity (UTH) in a warming climate. Considered view is that the atmosphere, which is getting moister with increasing temperatures, will retain a constant relative humidity. In the present study, we show that the upper tropospheric humidity, a weighted mean over a relative humidity profile, will change in spite of constant relative humidity. The simple reason for this is that the weighting function that defines UTH changes in a moister atmosphere. Through analytical calculations using observations and through radiative transfer calculations, we demonstrate that two quantities that define the weighting function of UTH can change: the water vapour scale height and the peak emission altitude. Applying these changes to real profiles of relative humidity shows that absolute UTH changes typically do not exceed 1%. If larger changes would be observed they would be an indication of climatological changes of relative humidity. As such, an increase in UTH between 1980 and 2009 in the northern midlatitudes as shown by earlier studies using High-resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder (HIRS) data, may be an indication of an increase in relative humidity as well.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/103667/
Document Type:Article
Title:Upper tropospheric humidity changes under constant relative humidity
Authors:
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthors ORCID iD
Gierens, KlausDLR, IPAUNSPECIFIED
Eleftheratos, KostasUniversity of Athens, GreeceUNSPECIFIED
Date:30 March 2016
Journal or Publication Title:Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP)
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:Yes
Gold Open Access:Yes
In SCOPUS:Yes
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Volume:16
DOI :10.5194/acp-16-4159-2016
Page Range:pp. 4159-4169
Publisher:Copernicus Publications
ISSN:1680-7316
Status:Published
Keywords:Klimawandel, relative Feuchte, Feuchte der oberen Troposphäre
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Earth Observation
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R EO - Erdbeobachtung
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Vorhaben Atmosphären- und Klimaforschung
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Atmospheric Physics
Deposited By: Gierens, Dr.rer.nat. Klaus Martin
Deposited On:30 Mar 2016 11:22
Last Modified:02 May 2019 13:59

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