PerspectiveAtmospheric Science

Water Vapor Feedback in Climate Models

Science  04 Nov 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5749, pp. 795-796
DOI: 10.1126/science.1119258

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Summary

General circulation models (GCMs) are highly sophisticated computer tools for modeling climate change, and they incorporate a large number of physical processes and variables. One of the most important challenges is to properly account for water vapor (clouds and humidity) in climate warming. In his Perspective, Cess discusses results reported in the same issue by Soden et al. in which water vapor feedback effects are tested by studying moistening trends in the upper troposphere. Satellite observations of atmospheric water vapor are found to agree well with moisture predictions generated by one of the key GCMs, showing that these feedback effects are being properly handled in the model, which eliminates a major potential source of uncertainty.