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A. Gettelman, W. J. Randel, S. Massie, F. Wu, W. G. Read, and J. M. Russell III

Abstract

The interannual variability of the tropical tropopause region between 14 and 18 km is examined using observations of convection, winds, and tropopause temperatures from reanalyses and water vapor from satellites. This variability is compared to a simulation using the Community Climate Model version 3 (CCM3) general circulation model forced by observed sea surface temperatures. A coherent picture of the effect of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on the tropopause region is presented in the NCEP–NCAR reanalyses and CCM3. ENSO modifies convection in the Tropics, and the temperature and circulation of the tropical tropopause region, in agreement with idealized models of tropical heating. CCM3 reproduces most details of these changes, but not the zonal mean temperature variations present in the analysis fields, which are not related to ENSO. ENSO also forces significant changes in observed and simulated water vapor fields. In the upper troposphere water vapor is at maximum near convection, while in the tropopause region water vapor is at minimum in the regions of convection and surrounding it. Convection, cirrus clouds, temperatures, and transport are all linked to describe the water vapor distribution and highlight the role of transport in the tropopause region.

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A. K. Steiner, F. Ladstädter, W. J. Randel, A. C. Maycock, Q. Fu, C. Claud, H. Gleisner, L. Haimberger, S.-P. Ho, P. Keckhut, T. Leblanc, C. Mears, L. M. Polvani, B. D. Santer, T. Schmidt, V. Sofieva, R. Wing, and C.-Z. Zou

Abstract

Temperature observations of the upper-air atmosphere are now available for more than 40 years from both ground- and satellite-based observing systems. Recent years have seen substantial improvements in reducing long-standing discrepancies among datasets through major reprocessing efforts. The advent of radio occultation (RO) observations in 2001 has led to further improvements in vertically resolved temperature measurements, enabling a detailed analysis of upper-troposphere/lower-stratosphere trends. This paper presents the current state of atmospheric temperature trends from the latest available observational records. We analyze observations from merged operational satellite measurements, radiosondes, lidars, and RO, spanning a vertical range from the lower troposphere to the upper stratosphere. The focus is on assessing climate trends and on identifying the degree of consistency among the observational systems. The results show a robust cooling of the stratosphere of about 1–3 K, and a robust warming of the troposphere of about 0.6–0.8 K over the last four decades (1979–2018). Consistent results are found between the satellite-based layer-average temperatures and vertically resolved radiosonde records. The overall latitude–altitude trend patterns are consistent between RO and radiosonde records. Significant warming of the troposphere is evident in the RO measurements available after 2001, with trends of 0.25–0.35 K per decade. Amplified warming in the tropical upper-troposphere compared to surface trends for 2002–18 is found based on RO and radiosonde records, in approximate agreement with moist adiabatic lapse rate theory. The consistency of trend results from the latest upper-air datasets will help to improve understanding of climate changes and their drivers.

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