Water in stratosphere plays key role in Earth's climate

Oct 03, 2013
High-level water vapor influences weather and climate. Credit: Shutterstock

Water vapor changes in the stratosphere contribute to warmer temperatures and likely play an important role in the evolution of Earth's climate, says a research team led by a Texas A&M University professor.

Andrew Dessler, a Texas A&M atmospheric sciences professor, and colleagues from the University of Colorado, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the Science and Technology Corp. have had their findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers found that increased surface temperatures, such as from the addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, leads to increased humidity in the . Because stratospheric is a greenhouse gas, this leads to additional warming, they said. This cycle is frequently called a feedback.

"We find that this stratospheric water vapor feedback is probably responsible for 5-10 percent of the total warming you get from adding carbon dioxide to the climate," Dessler explained. "While it's not really surprising that this process is going on, we were surprised at how important the process is for our climate system."

Climate models already include this process, but unevenly. Some models predict large increases in stratospheric humidity, while others don't, the researchers say.

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"It's clear to us that, if models want to make accurate predictions of , they should get stratospheric water vapor right," said Sean Davis, a research scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder and study coauthor. He added, "A better understanding of the stratospheric water vapor feedback could help explain some of the spread among predictions of future climate change from different models," referring to the projections made by the recently released 5th Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last week.

Several years ago, Dessler was the first to observationally calculate the strength of the cloud feedback, showing that clouds play a key role in climate change.

The researchers used water vapor measurements from the Microwave Limb Sounder on board NASA's Aura satellite. It also used simulations from NASA's Goddard Earth Observing System Chemistry Climate Model. The project was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

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deatopmg
2 / 5 (27) Oct 03, 2013
"The researchers found that increased surface temperatures, such as from the addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, leads to increased humidity in the stratosphere. Because stratospheric water vapor is a greenhouse gas, this leads to additional warming, they said. "

"...such as from the addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere..." continued myth amplification based on failed models but it keeps the money flowing in. CO2 absorption bands are essentially saturated so at the present concentration the effect of increasing concentrations on temp is insignificant.

It's the sun, stupid!
runrig
3.7 / 5 (15) Oct 03, 2013
It's the sun, stupid!


"Our results show that the observed rapid rise in global mean temperatures seen after 1985 cannot be ascribed to solar variability, whichever of the mechanisms is invoked and no matter how much the solar variation is amplified."

From: http://rspa.royal...ll#sec-5

And

"We show here, using either GCR fluxes or the PMOD TSI composite, that the solar changes have been in the direction opposite to that needed to increase surface air temperatures, as concluded by paper 1."

From: http://rspa.royal...ll#sec-5
cantdrive85
1.9 / 5 (23) Oct 03, 2013
The earth can be heated by the sun in other ways than "irradiation". The sun's dominance in regard to weather/climate is many order of magnitude more significant than the constituent parts of the atmosphere. The presence of the atmosphere and magnetosphere is due to the fact the earth is a charged body in the sun's electric domain. Minute variations can have profound effects on the systems therein.
runrig
3.8 / 5 (13) Oct 03, 2013
The earth can be heated by the sun in other ways than "irradiation". The sun's dominance in regard to weather/climate is many order of magnitude more significant than the constituent parts of the atmosphere. The presence of the atmosphere and magnetosphere is due to the fact the earth is a charged body in the sun's electric domain. Minute variations can have profound effects on the systems therein.


Fair enough I await the causation physics and obs that confirms that.

A weak sun does seem to cause changes to the winter polar Stratospheric vortex - ie it warms it (vis by greater cosmic ray collisions).
Weather is affected, as the vortex can warm out, disrupt and allow a -AO (High pressure) to form and spill cold air south. It's just a redistribution though as the Arctic becomes warmer to compensate.

Any heat gained by the climate system that does not come from irradiation is passing tiny - sorry.

http://en.wikiped...mic_rays
cantdrive85
1.5 / 5 (24) Oct 03, 2013
There are other ways the Sun can transfer energy to the Earth as well. There is the connection to the dark mode solar wind plasma;
http://phys.org/n...her.html

Birkeland currents;
http://phys.org/n...322.html

We know there is a connection between space weather and terrestrial weather;
http://phys.org/n...757.html

We know space weather affects the Van Alllen belts;
http://phys.org/n...tml#nRlv

We know the Van Allen belts are connected to the ionosphere;
http://phys.org/n...nce.html

We know the ionosphere is connected to storms;
http://phys.org/n...ere.html

And we know those currents are directly connected the surface currents;
http://onlinelibr...ed=false

runrig
3.8 / 5 (13) Oct 03, 2013
There are other ways the Sun can transfer energy to the Earth as well. There is the connection to the dark mode solar wind plasma;
http://phys.org/n...her.html


I know of these but how are they supposed to add any significant energy input to the bulk of the climate system (Troposphere and Ocean )? And why did this effect begin at the start of the industrial era. Any effect that is cyclic cannot be the cause - there needs to be a constant imbalance in in/output to explain what's going on. We know that the relative cooling of the Strat v the Trop is a signal of the GHG effect.

As I say, I await papers that show there is another source of energy input to the Earth's climate system from outside that reaches into the Trop to provide significant extra heat and is a constant that suddenly began ~150 years ago.
RealityCheck
2.1 / 5 (20) Oct 03, 2013
Hi Teech. :)
So well - if the water plays the key role in global warming, what all that mess with carbon dioxide, green technologies and carbon tax is about, after then? Who would be responsible for waste of resources made in this way?
Mate, is it possible you may have misread and/or misunderstood this statement in the article? ie:

"We find that this stratospheric water vapor feedback is probably responsible for 5-10 percent of the total warming you get from adding carbon dioxide to the climate..."
Note that the stratospheric water vapor increase from additional-CO2-warming is only 5-10% of the overall effect of the additional-CO2 effect?

To put this "feedback" component into proper perspective: the increase in warming effect from METHANE releases due to same additional-CO2-related warming effect (with or without any additional stratospheric vapour effect) involves "feedback" effects MANY ORDERS of magnitude that of any stratospheric vapor "feedback" component.:)
RealityCheck
2.2 / 5 (20) Oct 03, 2013
Hi deatopmg. :)
CO2 absorption bands are essentially saturated so at the present concentration the effect of increasing concentrations on temp is insignificant.
It's not only total CO2 in the atmosphere that is the problem, it is that increasing that total will cause further diffusion upwards into higher and higher parts of the atmosphere, such that the CO2 "blanket" will be THICKER the more CO2 overall. The increased warming and resultant more extreme/numerous cyclonic storm events will increase the rate at which the lower layer CO2 load is transported to ever higher layers. So even if the down-reradiating capacity of any one 'layer' has been "saturated" as you claim, adding to the number of layers and increasing the thickness and persistence of same must increase the CO2 must increase the down-reradiation capacity overall.

By the way, mate, can you point to the scientific sources which support your claim re "saturation" of CO2 absorption/down-reradiation capacity? Thanks. :)
DocStevens
2.5 / 5 (14) Oct 03, 2013
Does anyone know if that means there will be more rain across the Earth or at least in places where it may have previously been drier?
Neinsense99
2.6 / 5 (20) Oct 04, 2013
"The researchers found that increased surface temperatures, such as from the addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, leads to increased humidity in the stratosphere. Because stratospheric water vapor is a greenhouse gas, this leads to additional warming, they said. "

"...such as from the addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere..." continued myth amplification based on failed models but it keeps the money flowing in. CO2 absorption bands are essentially saturated so at the present concentration the effect of increasing concentrations on temp is insignificant.

It's the sun, stupid!

I suppose that overexposure to the sun might explain your inability to grasp basic science or engage in debate in an honest, rational manner.
Neinsense99
2.8 / 5 (18) Oct 04, 2013
There are other ways the Sun can transfer energy to the Earth as well. There is the connection to the dark mode solar wind plasma;
http://phys.org/n...her.html


If it posts quackery like a duck....
Lorentz Descartes
2.9 / 5 (17) Oct 04, 2013
what a beautiful picture for the header
runrig
4.3 / 5 (12) Oct 04, 2013
Does anyone know if that means there will be more rain across the Earth or at least in places where it may have previously been drier?


There will be more rain overall, but it will increasingly fall in more favoured places.

Monsoon rains are purely convectively driven from moist maritime air advected in over warm land (an enhanced sea-breeze effect). Therefore - warmer>wetter>heavier rain. Largely in the same places as now - but not necessarily as weather pattern changes will occur (wind/sea temp correlated).
This would be true of extra-tropical cyclones - higher SST's>more WV> more rain but more powerful storms as well (LH release).
Jet-stream bearing depressions will however progressively become more slower moving and meandering as a weaker Jet (due lesser temp gradient bewteen pole ( Arctic - as Antarctica will remain frigid for a VERY LONG TIME) The jet's sluggishness in this scenario will cause large variations in rainfall and also heat distribution/drought.
triplehelix
1.6 / 5 (20) Oct 04, 2013
It's the sun, stupid!


"Our results show that the observed rapid rise in global mean temperatures seen after 1985 cannot be ascribed to solar variability, whichever of the mechanisms is invoked and no matter how much the solar variation is amplified."

From: http://rspa.royal...ll#sec-5


Yet we have an article on physorg right now stating early Earths sun was 20% less powerful and the Earth should have been a snowball requiring 1000x more CO2, for a simple 20% drop. The sun increases by 0.1% (which it has in recent years) and you're looking at 20/0.1 = 200th, 1000(co2)/200=5.

So you would need a multiplicative of 5x CO2 to match or equate 0.1% of solar activity.

Our CO2 hasn't increased by 500%.

It's the sun.
runrig
3.7 / 5 (12) Oct 04, 2013
Triple:
Yet we have an article on physorg right now stating early Earths sun was 20% less powerful and the Earth should have been a snowball requiring 1000x more CO2, for a simple 20% drop. The sun increases by 0.1% (which it has in recent years) and you're looking at 20/0.1 = 200th, 1000(co2)/200=5.
So you would need a multiplicative of 5x CO2 to match or equate 0.1% of solar activity.
Our CO2 hasn't increased by 500%.
It's the sun.

I don't know what to say - except that that comparison is staggeringly stupid and plain wrong in it's maths anyway.
.
Let's start with the 5X claim...

In 2005 the radiative forcing of CO2 in the atmosphere was 1.66 W/m2 and CO2 concentration 380ppm.
Because the CO2 vs Forcing relation is logarithmic - ie each doubling of CO2 adds 4W/m^2 of forcing
then...
380=1.7
2x = 760=5.7
4x =1520=9.7
So taking just 4x would yield an extra ~10w/m2
0.1% of solar variation is 340/1000=0.34W/m2
There's a bit of a disparity there, eh? 30x in fact.

Cont
runrig
3.8 / 5 (13) Oct 04, 2013
Cont
Taking a (near) linear response at small increases of CO2, then 380/4 = 95ppm per 1W/m2 divide by 3 (for 0.34W/m2) and you get ~30ppm
So to match the solar variation over it's 11 year cycle the extra CO2 needed is just an extra 30ppm
The increase of industrial times has been ~280ppm to ~400ppm, a 40% increase or 120ppm.
ie: 4X natural Solar variation.

AND this ignors the WV feedback of 2x and total anthro feedback of 3x

Which is between 8 and 12 times extra energy retained by the Climate system than happens in an 11 year cycle (reversing of course from min>max>min).

You are trying to compare a climate billions of years ago with that of today.
What was the Earth's albedo then?
How much water?
Was the Earth in the same orbit? may have been closer.

Yet you are prepared to state baldly and staggeringly incorrectly than 0.1% variation in the Sun would need 500% the current amount of CO2- when in fact just an extra 8% is needed.

"it's the Sun"

Oh, all right then - if you say so.
cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (20) Oct 04, 2013
"The researchers found that increased surface temperatures, such as from the addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, leads to increased humidity in the stratosphere. Because stratospheric water vapor is a greenhouse gas, this leads to additional warming "

"...such as from the addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere..." continued myth amplification based on failed models but it keeps the money flowing in. CO2 absorption bands are essentially saturated so at the present concentration the effect of increasing concentrations on temp is insignificant.
It's the sun, stupid!

I suppose that overexposure to the sun might explain your inability to grasp basic science or engage in debate in an honest, rational manner.

Yeah, where's you honest rational debate?
There are other ways the Sun can transfer energy to the Earth as well. There is the connection to the dark mode solar wind plasma;

If it posts quackery like a duck....

Top notch "debate". Rube!
cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (20) Oct 04, 2013
As I say, I await papers that show there is another source of energy input to the Earth's climate system from outside that reaches into the Trop to provide significant extra heat and is a constant that suddenly began ~150 years ago.


It's not a coincidence the warming coincided with the emergence from the "Little Ice Age", it is a coincidence the warming coincided with the industrial age. One only need to look at the numbers after WWII when CO2 production exploded. The effects are negligible.
runrig
3.8 / 5 (13) Oct 04, 2013
It's not a coincidence the warming coincided with the emergence from the "Little Ice Age", it is a coincidence the warming coincided with the industrial age. One only need to look at the numbers after WWII when CO2 production exploded. The effects are negligible.


The LIA reduced irradiation by only 0.1 to 0.68 W/m^2 (TOA - out of 1366 W/m^2) and studies since 2000 indicate only ~0 to 0.38 W/m^2. The 11 year cycle produces ~1.37 W/m^2 variation (again TOA). Which is between twice and 14x as much. Don't forget the 11yr goes from max to min and the LIA was just a min.

In no way does that level of decrease in solar irradiation during the LIA require a recovery, let alone one such as the present. A recovery, no, not for solar reasons anyway - major volcanic eruptions during the LIA may well have played a large part in cooling.

The effects of CO2 increase of 40% are "negligible" are they. Right. If you say so.

http://www.ipcc.c...1-2.html
DocStevens
2.7 / 5 (14) Oct 04, 2013
Thanks for the answer runrig
Water_Prophet
1.4 / 5 (19) Oct 05, 2013
Water in stratosphere plays key role in Earth's climate

Really, this prophet never would have guessed... (sarcasm)
It is similar to what has been prophesized.
Yet we are left with a dilemma in the current cannon: The Holy Element, Water, is a much more powerful and common than the blighted air elemental, CO2. With this basis, should not an increase FROM CO2 thus cause an increase in Water, and should this not cause a runaway effect?
Which we do not observe.
Ah, these noveau prophets get nearer the truth, yet fail to examine the wonderful, predictions of the Holy Element.
Water_Prophet
1.6 / 5 (20) Oct 05, 2013
@runrig
I admire your efforts at prophesy. But venture that a linear response is only an approximation for concentrations loosely between 1 and 20% (medium dependant). CO2 will enjoy an exponential incease in activity as it approaches 1%.
Any serious examination of CO2 can not be so simple.
NikFromNYC
1.2 / 5 (20) Oct 06, 2013
"We find that this stratospheric water vapor feedback is probably responsible for 5-10 percent of the total warming you get from adding carbon dioxide to the climate...."

A truly bizarre statement concerning a "science" that relies on multiplication by 2X-3X of the traditional greenhouse effect by water vapor as the *only* reason for their climate alarm and thus emergency level funding that no other field enjoys in a zero sum R&D game. 2-3X is 50%-66% not 5-10%. If a skeptic made their same claim, shouts of "denier!" and "Fox News fanatic!" would here appear. It seems to be a preemptive smoke screen as their defunded climate models lament "I can feel it Dave. I can feel it. My mind is going. I'm afraid Dave. I'm afraid."

Supercomputers can help cure cancer but only if they are taken away from charlatans and given to real scientists, unless you live in Unicornville.
VendicarE
3.7 / 5 (9) Oct 06, 2013
"It's the sun, stupid!" - deaTard

You mean the cooling sun is causing the earth to warm and Venus to cool?

VendicarE
3.7 / 5 (9) Oct 06, 2013
"2-3X is 50%-66% not 5-10%." - NikkieTard

NikkieTard seems not to have read the part of the sentence that he quotes which restricts the claim made in the sentence to "stratospheric water".

TardieBoy seems to be getting dumber by the hour.

VendicarE
3.7 / 5 (9) Oct 06, 2013
"It's not a coincidence the warming coincided with the emergence from the "Little Ice Age"" - Can'tDriveTooStupid

THE LIA was a regional cooling, not a global one.

It is barely detectable in the global climate record.

NikFromNYC
1.4 / 5 (20) Oct 06, 2013
Two minute ratings bots and Death Threat Guy are again joining poor climate modeler runrig.

He's fully aware that solar magnetic activity is a potential controlling influence on climate via cloud formation that blocks warming when less solar shielding of background cosmic rays results in more cloud droplet nucleation, all according to serious academics that now include a team at the CERN particle accelerator facility. Any mention of solar output and W/m2 is just disinformation campaigning since not even eccentric skeptics are unable to read charts of nearly constant solar light intensity output.
VendicarE
3.4 / 5 (8) Oct 06, 2013
"So you would need a multiplicative of 5x CO2 to match or equate 0.1% of solar activity." - TripleTard

The world is a linear place for TripleTard. He hasn't heard of Beer's law, and hasn't taken the time to think about how light intensity is distributed through a dispersive medium.

I strongly suggest that he place several drops of milk into a glass of clear water, and shine a laser though the solution.

If he has a few brain cells remaining, he will learn what was known 300 years ago.
VendicarE
3.6 / 5 (9) Oct 06, 2013
"He's fully aware that solar magnetic activity is a potential controlling influence on climate via cloud formation that blocks warming when less solar shielding of background cosmic rays results in more cloud droplet nucleation" - NikkieTard

And yet no one can seem to find a lasting and statistically significant on Cloud Cover and Solar Output on time scales of less than 100 years.

The problem for the solar Tardies of course is that the earth isn't cooling as solar output has fallen and as the magnetic field strength has been reduced.

Poor NikkieTard. Observation proves his ideology is false.... Again....

VendicarE
3.5 / 5 (8) Oct 06, 2013
"Birkeland currents;" - CantDriveTooStupid

http://www.youtub...4l7QWeeU

A very important video link.
meBigGuy
3.4 / 5 (10) Oct 06, 2013
Let's all sing the denier ballad. (with fingers in ears)

LaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLa

meBigGuy
3.5 / 5 (11) Oct 06, 2013
You know, Nik, for a claimed Phd (which you seem to think is important to declare) you are strangely unable to articulate arguments in a succint, clear, focused manner. You seem to just spout random claims, many times totally unsupported, many times already totally disproven, many times citing minor effects as if they were major.

I desperately want to be a AGW skeptic (not a denier), but the idiocies you and others post make it obvious there is no serious science there.
meBigGuy
3.8 / 5 (10) Oct 06, 2013
@runrig:

The carefully thought out, concise answers you usually supply should be an inspiration to all who want to teach and communicate. They are educational, and an example of sound reasoning. Someday (if there is any truth in their claims) there will be a skeptic capable of that level of clarity. I won't hold my breath, but remain ever hopeful the science is overlooking something.
alfie_null
4.3 / 5 (6) Oct 06, 2013
Someday (if there is any truth in their claims) there will be a skeptic capable of that level of clarity. I won't hold my breath, but remain ever hopeful the science is overlooking something.

There's this crackpot effect on the popularity of topics to researchers.

Some areas that otherwise might be attracting some amount of respect in the scientific community and legitimate research are avoided by people capable of doing that research because a small but vocal group (largely laypersons) has poisoned them. Cold fusion comes to mind.

Although not a research topic per se, critical views of AGW are like this. It has become the domain of crackpots. People who are unable to argue the science well, and end up tossing out unsatisfying rhetoric and dogma.

The actions of this rabble has the effect of chilling the topic to real research. If they had any hope of their views being taken seriously (doubt that is their motivation), they've screwed themselves.
meBigGuy
4.6 / 5 (9) Oct 06, 2013
Personally I think that every scientist is a skeptic (in a general scientific sense) at heart, and that these ideas are being tested daily. Of course there are exceptions, but large and away you are dealing with people who are obsessed with explaining the data and continuously seeking new ways to gather new data. There may be some new ideas that aren't getting out there, but scientists get just as much recognition for disproving as they do for proving.

That said, scientific momentum is real, and rightly so.
cantdrive85
1.2 / 5 (17) Oct 06, 2013
"Birkeland currents;" - CantDriveTooStupid

http://www.youtub...4l7QWeeU

A very important video link.

So you are a flat earther with a twist of hollowness?
runrig
4 / 5 (8) Oct 06, 2013
He's fully aware that solar magnetic activity is a potential controlling influence on climate via cloud formation that blocks warming when less solar shielding of background cosmic rays results in more cloud droplet nucleation, all according to serious academics that now include a team at the CERN particle accelerator facility. Any mention of solar output and W/m2 is just disinformation campaigning since not even eccentric skeptics are unable to read charts of nearly constant solar light intensity output.


I'm afraid there are plenty of "eccentric skeptics" who argue that "it's the Sun stupid" - I've recently put up posts in response to a couple on here and there are plenty on Roy Spencer's site as well.

The CERN experiment is interesting but some years of research are required to fully investigate ... as the lead author Jasper Kirby say's himself...

Cont
runrig
3.9 / 5 (7) Oct 06, 2013
Cont

"Early results seem to indicate that cosmic rays do cause a change. The high-energy protons seemed to enhance the production of nanometre-sized particles from the gaseous atmosphere by more than a factor of ten. But, Kirkby adds, THOSE PARTICLES ARE FAR TO SMALL TO SERVE AS SEEDS FOR CLOUDS. "At the moment, it actually says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate, but it's a very important first step," he says."
(my capitals)

So your statement that cosmic rays "results in more cloud droplet nucleation" is, at best disingenuous.

http://www.nature...504.html
http://arxiv.org/...1938.pdf
runrig
4 / 5 (8) Oct 06, 2013
@runrig:

The carefully thought out, concise answers you usually supply should be an inspiration to all who want to teach and communicate. They are educational, and an example of sound reasoning. ......

meBigGuy:

Thanks, but look I'm nothing exceptional. I am no academic, just a retired weather forecaster who has been thinking weather as long as I can remember, and have a knowledge of the way weather works and how it's forecast. I have learned that being reasoned and non-confrontational (though I often get exasperated and lapse at times - you know the ones I mean) is best.

It just try to counter obvious "disinformation". I look upon this "argument" as a microcosm of fundamentalist thinking that resorts to "gut feeling" - read ideology, that's one step away from reducing man to the middle ages. If we were to ignore climate science and carry on business as usual, irrespective of the consequences, then what's the point of science, of the advancements we've made since Newton?