Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Tropospheric Temperatures

A trio of papers in the latest issue of Science magazine may well put to rest arguments that skeptics (and some politicians) have used to discount anthropogenic global warming. Most important is a paper by Carl Mears and Frank Wentz…
August 17, 2005

A trio of papers in the latest issue of Science magazine may well put to rest arguments that skeptics (and some politicians) have used to discount anthropogenic global warming. Most important is a paper by Carl Mears and Frank Wentz of Remote Sensing Systems, “The Effect of Diurnal Correction on Satellite-Derived Lower Tropospheric Temperature.”

The problem has been that, since 1990, an analysis of satellite observations showed the troposphere (the lowest few kilometers of the atmosphere) was warming too slowly compared to the surface for climate models to be correct. Needless to say, global-warming skeptics have seized on this result, saying that climate models had to be incorrect and therefore the view that mankind’s activities are warming the atmosphere must be in error.

“It has been the main crutch of the skeptics when it comes to pooh-poohing global warming, with some success,” says Kevin Trenberth, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

A group led by John Christy and Roy Spencer had earlier concluded that the troposphere was warming by about 0.09°C per decade, below what climate models predict. Mears and Wentz instead used a complicated model of the atmosphere to adjust the satellite measurements for time of day, and with it found that the troposphere appears to be warming by 0.19°C per decade, very close to surface measurements and climate models.

The Christy and Spencer group have admitted to an error in their earlier analysis, as Spencer wrote in a recent TechCentral Station article, and now they find a number of 0.12°C per decade. There’s still a slight discrepancy, but the argument has been moved along. As Spencer put it in TCS:

On the positive side, at least some portion of the disagreement between satellite and thermometer estimates of global temperature trends has now been removed. This helps to further shift the global warming debate out of the realm of “is warming happening?” to “how much has it warmed, and how much will it warm in the future?” (Equally valid questions to debate are “how much of the warmth is man-made?”, “is warming necessarily a bad thing?”, and “what can we do about it anyway?”.) And this is where the debate should be.

Deep Dive

Uncategorized

Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot
Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot

It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.

If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.

stock art of market data
stock art of market data

Maximize business value with data-driven strategies

Every organization is now collecting data, but few are truly data driven. Here are five ways data can transform your business.

Cryptocurrency fuels new business opportunities

As adoption of digital assets accelerates, companies are investing in innovative products and services.

Mifiprex pill
Mifiprex pill

Where to get abortion pills and how to use them

New US restrictions could turn abortion into do-it-yourself medicine, but there might be legal risks.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.