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Remote Sens. 2010, 2(9), 2148-2169; doi:10.3390/rs2092148

What Do Observational Datasets Say about Modeled Tropospheric Temperature Trends since 1979?

1
ESSC-UAH, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Cramer Hall, Huntsville AL 35899, USA
2
Atmospheric Physics, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85821, USA
3
University of Colorado, Stadium 255-16, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
4
Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
5
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Rochester University, Bausch & Lomb Hall, P.O. Box 270171, 500 Wilson Blvd., Rochester, NY 14627-0171, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 July 2010 / Revised: 3 September 2010 / Accepted: 14 September 2010 / Published: 15 September 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing in Climate Monitoring and Analysis)
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Abstract

Updated tropical lower tropospheric temperature datasets covering the period 1979–2009 are presented and assessed for accuracy based upon recent publications and several analyses conducted here. We conclude that the lower tropospheric temperature (TLT) trend over these 31 years is +0.09 ± 0.03 °C decade−1. Given that the surface temperature (Tsfc) trends from three different groups agree extremely closely among themselves (~ +0.12 °C decade−1) this indicates that the “scaling ratio” (SR, or ratio of atmospheric trend to surface trend: TLT/Tsfc) of the observations is ~0.8 ± 0.3. This is significantly different from the average SR calculated from the IPCC AR4 model simulations which is ~1.4. This result indicates the majority of AR4 simulations tend to portray significantly greater warming in the troposphere relative to the surface than is found in observations. The SR, as an internal, normalized metric of model behavior, largely avoids the confounding influence of short-term fluctuations such as El Niños which make direct comparison of trend magnitudes less confident, even over multi-decadal periods.
Keywords: tropical temperature; climate change; satellite temperatures; climate models tropical temperature; climate change; satellite temperatures; climate models
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Christy, J.R.; Herman, B.; Pielke, R., Sr.; Klotzbach, P.; McNider, R.T.; Hnilo, J.J.; Spencer, R.W.; Chase, T.; Douglass, D. What Do Observational Datasets Say about Modeled Tropospheric Temperature Trends since 1979? Remote Sens. 2010, 2, 2148-2169.

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