Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists find "fingerprint" of human activities in recent tropopause height changes

25.07.2003


Scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have determined that human-induced changes in ozone and well-mixed greenhouse gases are the primary drivers of recent changes in the height of the tropopause.



Earlier research has shown that increases in the height of the tropopause over the past two decades are directly linked to stratospheric ozone depletion and increased greenhouse gases.

The new research uses climate model results to provide more quantitative estimates of the relative contributions of natural and human influences to overall tropopause height changes. This work indicates that 80 percent of the roughly 200-meter increase in tropopause height from 1979 to 1999 is directly linked to human activities. Smaller tropopause height increases over the first half of the 20th century are largely caused by natural variations in volcanic aerosols and solar irradiance.


The tropopause is the boundary between the lowest layer of the atmosphere -- the turbulently mixed troposphere -- and the more stable stratosphere. It lies roughly 10 miles above the Earth´s surface at the equator and five miles above the poles. The location of the tropopause is sensitive to changes in vertical profiles of atmospheric temperature. The Livermore research attempts to understand how different mechanisms affect atmospheric temperatures, and hence tropopause height. It is the first study to show that a model-predicted "fingerprint" of tropopause height changes can be identified in observations.

The paper describing this work, entitled, "Contributions of Anthropogenic and Natural Forcing to Recent Tropopause Height Changes," appears in the July 25 edition of Science. It involves a team of Livermore scientists (Benjamin Santer, Karl Taylor and James Boyle) and researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre in Germany and the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

Using a computer model of the climate system, the Lab scientists and their colleagues examined changes in both man-made forcings (well-mixed greenhouse gases, tropospheric and stratospheric ozone, and the scattering effects of sulfate aerosols) and natural external forcings (solar irradiance and volcanic aerosols). Experiments were performed with a model developed jointly by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and Los Alamos National Laboratory. The innovative aspect of these model runs is that climate forcings were varied both individually and in concert. This allowed the researchers to estimate the contribution of each forcing to overall changes in atmospheric temperature and tropopause height. Completion of this very large ensemble of model runs was made possible by recent developments in high performance computing capabilities at U.S. Department of Energy and National Science Foundation facilities. Output from these and other related climate model runs is available at http://www.nersc.gov/projects/gcm_data/.

The model results reveal the key drivers of recent tropopause height increases -- human-caused changes in well-mixed greenhouse gases and stratospheric ozone -- act primarily through warming of the troposphere (greenhouse gases) and cooling of the lower stratosphere (ozone). Both of these effects increase tropopause height.

"Tropopause height is an integrated indicator of human-induced climate change," Santer said. "It reflects global-scale changes in the temperature structure of the atmosphere. Our research shows that the increase in tropopause height over the second half of the 20th century was predominantly due to human activity, and provides independent support for claims of recent tropospheric warming."

Anne Stark | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.berkeley.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds
25.07.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht NASA flights gauge summer sea ice melt in the Arctic
25.07.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>