Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Water vapor feedback is rapidly warming Europe


A new report indicates that the vast majority of the rapid temperature increase recently observed in Europe is likely due to an unexpected greenhouse gas: water vapor. Elevated surface temperatures due to other greenhouse gases have enhanced water evaporation and contributed to a cycle that stimulates further surface temperature increases, according to a report in Geophysical Research Letters. The research could help to answer a long-debated Earth science question about whether the water cycle could strongly enhance greenhouse warming.

Swiss researchers examined surface radiation measurements from 1995 to 2002 over the Alps in Central Europe and show strongly increasing total surface absorbed radiation, concurrent with rapidly increasing temperature. The authors, led by Rolf Philipona of the World Radiation Center in Davos, show experimentally that 70 percent of the rapid temperature increase is very likely caused by water vapor feedback. They indicate that remaining 30 percent is likely due to increasing manmade greenhouse gases.

The researchers analyzed temperature and humidity changes over Europe, which jumped nearly three times above the levels predicted by general circulation models in the past two decades. They provide observational evidence that large-scale weather patterns in Europe influence annual average temperatures uniformly, but weakly. They suggest that their combined observations indicate that the region is experiencing an increasing greenhouse effect and that the dominant part of the rising heat emitted from the Earth’s atmosphere (longwave radiation) is due to water vapor increase.

After examining increased cloud cover to the north of the Alps and decreased cover to the south, the authors report that both sides of the mountain range experienced clear warming over the 1995-2002 period. While clouds are not entirely responsible for the warming, such findings correspond with previous cloud investigations showing that for midlatitudes, annual mean cloud cooling from the Sun (shortwave radiation) is roughly canceled by cloud warming caused by heat emitted by longwave radiation from the surface.

The strong increase of longwave radiation is shown in the study to be due to increasing cloudiness, rising temperature, rising water vapor, and above all to long-lived manmade greenhouse gases. The scientists’ radiation measurements in the Alps show that the various inputs, or forcings, can be separated and that manmade greenhouse forcing is measurable at Earth’s surface. Above all, their measurements demonstrate strong water vapor feedback that rapidly warms Central and Northeastern Europe, where sufficient water is available from plants and the surface, known as evapotranspiration.

Harvey Leifert | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht UCI and NASA document accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica
26.10.2016 | University of California - Irvine

nachricht Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere
25.10.2016 | American Geophysical Union

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>