Contrary to a midtropospheric warming trend detected from Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) measurements, High-Resolution Infrared Radiation Sounder (HIRS) temperature (15 mm) channels, sensitive to the thermal emission from the troposphere, produce distinct cooling trends for the period 1980-99. This apparent discrepancy in the tropospheric temperature trend is investigated through radiative transfer simulations using Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory climate model output and the profiles of the standard model atmospheres. Radiative simulations with time-invariant carbon dioxide concentration throughout the entire analysis period produce trends that are qualitatively similar to that obtained from the MSU observations, implying that the observed cooling trends of the HIRS temperature channels are attributable to increased carbon dioxide concentration over the 20-yr period. Additional simulations with the observed time-varying concentration of carbon dioxide confirm this basic result. Whereas temperature fluctuations dominate variability on monthly to interannual time scales, carbon dioxide changes dominate the decadal trends in both the observations and model simulations. Further simulations examined the sensitivity of the brightness temperature change with respect to the changes in tropospheric and stratospheric temperature. These calculations indicate that the influences of stratospheric temperature on the measured radiances are greater for the HIRS temperature channels relative to the MSU midtropospheric channel. These results highlight the contributions of time-varying carbon dioxide concentrations and stratospheric temperature to the HIRS 15-μm (temperature channel) radiance record and underscore the importance of accurately accounting for these changes when using HIRS measurements for long-term monitoring.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science