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Water Vapor Feedback in the Tropical Upper Troposphere

PI: Ken Minschwaner
Institution: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Additional Investigators: Andrew Dessler
We propose to analyze the response of mean humidity in the tropical upper troposphere to changes in convective-mean tropical SST. Recent work based on analysis of satellite measurements has shown that interannual changes in both specific and relative upper tropospheric humidity (UTH, 10-14 km) are correlated with SST changes within regions of deep convection. As the water vapor feedback by tropical UTH is expected to play a crucial role in the radiative forcing of climate change, it is thus important to understand the characteristics of coupled climate model responses in this area. We would like to examine the mean and statistical distribution of UTH responses from the multi-model dataset. Specifically, we wish to use output from run 6 (100 year control run) in order to compare interannual relationships with observations. As time permits, we will examine how long-term trends in mean UTH and convective-mean SST are related in run 5 (1%/yr CO2 increase, doubling in 70 years). Model data required will be monthly mean SST(lat,lon,month), TOA outgoing longwave flux(lat,lon,month) to define area of active convection, specific humidity(lat,lon,month,pres=250,200,150 hPa), and air temperature(lat,lon,month,pres=250,200,150 hPa).
  • Dessler, A.E. and S. Wong, 2009: Estimates of the water vapor climate feedback during the El Niño Southern Oscillation. J. Climate, 22, 6404-6412, 10.1175/2009JCLI3052.1. Abstract. Full Article. Edit.
  • Minschwaner, K., A. E. Dessler, and P. Sawaengphokhai, 2006: Multi-model Analysis of the Water Vapor Feedback in the Tropical Upper Troposphere. J Climate, 19, 5455-5464. Abstract. Edit.

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