Influence of Satellite Data Uncertainties on the Detection of Externally Forced Climate Change

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Science  23 May 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5623, pp. 1280-1284
DOI: 10.1126/science.1082393

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Two independent analyses of the same satellite-based radiative emissions data yield tropospheric temperature trends that differ by 0.1°C per decade over 1979 to 2001. The troposphere warms appreciably in one satellite data set, while the other data set shows little overall change. These satellite data uncertainties are important in studies seekingto identify human effects on climate. A model-predicted “fingerprint” of combined anthropogenic and natural effects is statistically detectable only in the satellite data set with a warmingtroposphere. Our findings show that claimed inconsistencies between model predictions and satellite tropospheric temperature data (and between the latter and surface data) may be an artifact of data uncertainties.

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