Troposphere Temperatures

Scott Church
Climate Change & Tropospheric Temperature Trends - Part I: What do we know today and where is it taking us?PDF Version
Scott Church
A paper by me on the state of troposphere temperature trend research as of March 2005. Part I deals with the upper-air record and is mainly a Year 2005 update of the Year 2000 NRC reports linked above. Part II, which is linked off of my Climate Change Skeptics page, deals with the way this record has been used by industry and Far-Right special interests seeking to refute the evidence for anthropogenic climate change. In spring of 2005, shortly after this paper was released a basic math error (a misplaced minus sign) was discovered in the satellite-based datasets most frequently cited by these interests. When the error was corrected the trend differences between these datasets and those of climate models and other teams fell well within the range of statistical noise, and the whole conflict vanished. Since then this record has been abandoned by most skeptics as evidence against global warming, and with it over ten years worth of insistent claims that it is more reliable than other datasets. Yet even to this day, some Far-Right special interests still cite these records as "proof" that global warming isn't real.
Reconciling Observations of Global Temperature Change
(NRC, 2000)
The Year 2000 report from the National Research Council summarizes the state of knowledge regarding global radiosonde and satellite-based troposphere temperature trends microwave at the time it was published. This report was the starting point for many successive efforts to clarify the upper-air record and determine whether its discrepancies with surface temperature trends and climate models were spurious or real—an issue which has since been resolved as shown in other sources linked here.
Understanding Recent Atmospheric Temperature Trends and Reducing Uncertainties
(Draft White Paper prepared for the US Climate Change Science Program, Nov. 2002)
A Year 2002 Report from the U.S. Climate Change Program similar to the NRC Year 2000 report, but with updated information, including a discussion of the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) Version 1.0 satellite retrieval.
Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences - Final Report 1.1
(U.S. Climate Change Science Program, May 2005)
In 2000, after the release of the NRC report global temperature change, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program set out to investigate the discrepancies between surface and atmospheric temperatures as observed by satellites and radiosondes (weather balloons). The Program’s preliminary investigation and plans for further investigation were set forth in the draft white paper in the second link. This report, released in May of 2005 presents the USCCSP’s final results in which they demonstrate the agreement between surface and atmospheric temperature records and suggest agendas for further research. The first link is to a page that has links to the full contents of each section, as well as one to the complete report (9.2 mb download). The report's Executive Summary is available here.
Analysis Products
A Reanalysis of the MSU Channel 2 Tropospheric Temperature Record
(Mears et al. 2003.J. Climate, 16 (22))
This paper from Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) presents Version 1.0 of their MSU derived upper-air analysis and resulting troposphere and stratosphere temperature trends. RSS analysis products use different methods for processing these records than the University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAH) products that were in conflict with climate model predictions at the time this paper was published. Specifically, RSS relied on the unprocessed MSU datasets which view bulk brightness temperatures for mainly in the middle and upper troposphere (or the free trosposphere) while UAH relied on “synthetic channel” data that emphasized the lower troposphere by combining various side-looking views of the MSU detectors. RSS also use different methods for removal of noise from the data and combining the records of different satellites over time to produce a continuous trend. There are strengths and weaknesses to each approach and neither approach is clearly better than the other in all respects. The mainstream climate science community relies on both, but tends to favor this record over the UAH products because it agrees well with two more analyses that used analysis methods independent of its and UAH’s (Prabhakara et al, 2000; 1998 Geophys Res Lett), and because there is general agreement that RSS methods are less subject to noise of various kinds than their UAH counterparts. Climate skeptics have relied exclusively on the UAH products for their case because it yields the smallest warming trends of all available datasets.
MSU Tropospheric Temperatures: Dataset Construction and Radiosonde Comparisons
(Christy et al. 2000. J. Atmos. And Oc. Tech., 17 (9), pp. 1153–1170)
Error Estimates of Version 5.0 of MSU–AMSU Bulk Atmospheric Temperatures
(Christy et al. 2003. J. Atmos. And Oc. Tech., 20, pp. 613-629).
UAH Channel 2 (T2) MSU Datasets
(MSU Channel 2: the Free Troposphere)


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