Upper-tropospheric moistening in response to anthropogenic warming

Eui Seok Chung, Brian Soden, B. J. Sohn, Lei Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Water vapor in the upper troposphere strongly regulates the strength of water-vapor feedback, which is the primary process for amplifying the response of the climate system to external radiative forcings. Monitoring changes in upper-tropospheric water vapor and scrutinizing the causes of such changes are therefore of great importance for establishing the credibility of model projections of past and future climates. Here,we use coupled ocean-atmosphere model simulations under different climate-forcing scenarios to investigate satellite-observed changes in global-mean upper-tropospheric water vapor. Our analysis demonstrates that the upper-tropospheric moistening observed over the period 1979-2005 cannot be explained by natural causes and results principally from an anthropogenic warming of the climate. By attributing the observed increase directly to human activities, this study verifies the presence of the largest known feedback mechanism for amplifying anthropogenic climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11636-11641
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 12 2014


  • Attribution
  • Detection
  • Long-term monitoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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