Weather Balloon Evidence Confirms Lowest Satellite Temperature Estimates

by William Yeatman on March 30, 2004

in Science

Last year, three dueling estimates of what satellites tell us about the temperature of the atmosphere were published. John Christy and Roy Spencer from the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) and colleagues estimated marginal warming (+0.03 0.05 C per decade), while Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) found warming at the bottom range of greenhouse theory projections (+0.12 0.02 C per decade) and Vinnikov and Grody found warming similar to that predicted by global climate models (+0.24 0.02 C per decade).

Christy and his colleagues maintained that their interpretations were closer to the truth because they were backed up by independent measurements from weather balloon radiosonde readings. Others objected that the radiosonde readings did not cover the whole atmosphere, which meant that their validity could not be established by that method.

Christy et al. have now published a study in Geophysical Research Letters (Vol. 31, Mar. 31) that compares the UAH and RSS data for the lower troposphere to comparable radiosonde records. The study finds that “the UAH lower tropospheric (LT) data are highly consistent with the more robust lower elevation radiosonde data. These results support the conclusion of Christy et al. [2003] that for Dec. 1978 to Nov. 2003 (25 years) the global trend in LT is +0.08 0.05 C [per] decade.” This lends “support for the least positive trend of the three deeper layer [i.e. whole atmosphere] values (+0.03 0.05 C [per] decade) as it was constructed in the same manner as LT.”

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