Research Article

Contributions of Stratospheric Water Vapor to Decadal Changes in the Rate of Global Warming

Science  05 Mar 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5970, pp. 1219-1223
DOI: 10.1126/science.1182488

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Abstract

Stratospheric water vapor concentrations decreased by about 10% after the year 2000. Here we show that this acted to slow the rate of increase in global surface temperature over 2000–2009 by about 25% compared to that which would have occurred due only to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. More limited data suggest that stratospheric water vapor probably increased between 1980 and 2000, which would have enhanced the decadal rate of surface warming during the 1990s by about 30% as compared to estimates neglecting this change. These findings show that stratospheric water vapor is an important driver of decadal global surface climate change.

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