On Using Global Climate Model Simulations to Assess the Accuracy of MSU Retrieval Methods for Tropospheric Warming Trends

Jeffrey T. Kiehl Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado

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Julie M. Caron Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado

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James J. Hack Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado

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Abstract

Climate model simulations of the latter part of the twentieth century indicate a warming of the troposphere that is equal to or larger than the warming at the surface, while satellite observations from the Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) indicate little warming of the troposphere relative to surface observations. Recently, Fu et al. proposed a new approach to retrieving free tropospheric temperature trends from MSU data that better accounts for stratospheric cooling, which contaminates the tropospheric signal and leads to a smaller trend in tropospheric warming. In this study, climate model simulations are used as a self-consistent dataset to test these retrieval algorithms. The two methods of retrieving tropospheric temperature trends are applied to three climate model simulations of the twentieth century. The Fu et al. algorithm is found to be in very good agreement with the model-simulated tropospheric warming, indicating that it accurately accounts for cooling from the lower stratosphere.

* The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Corresponding author address: Jeffrey T. Kiehl, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, 1850 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder, CO 80305. Email: jtkon@ucar.edu

Abstract

Climate model simulations of the latter part of the twentieth century indicate a warming of the troposphere that is equal to or larger than the warming at the surface, while satellite observations from the Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) indicate little warming of the troposphere relative to surface observations. Recently, Fu et al. proposed a new approach to retrieving free tropospheric temperature trends from MSU data that better accounts for stratospheric cooling, which contaminates the tropospheric signal and leads to a smaller trend in tropospheric warming. In this study, climate model simulations are used as a self-consistent dataset to test these retrieval algorithms. The two methods of retrieving tropospheric temperature trends are applied to three climate model simulations of the twentieth century. The Fu et al. algorithm is found to be in very good agreement with the model-simulated tropospheric warming, indicating that it accurately accounts for cooling from the lower stratosphere.

* The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Corresponding author address: Jeffrey T. Kiehl, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, 1850 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder, CO 80305. Email: jtkon@ucar.edu

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