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Monitoring the width of the tropical belt with GPS radio occultation measurements


Corresponding author: C. O. Ao, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Dr., M/S 138-308, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA. (


[1] GPS radio occultation data collected over the period 2002–2011 were analyzed to examine the possible expansion of the tropical belt due to climate change. By the use of high vertical-resolution temperature profiles, monthly averages of the lapse rate tropopause were obtained and used to derive a decade-long time series of the tropical edge latitude (TEL) in each hemisphere and its linear trends. Two different TEL criteria were examined. Our analysis shows that a statistically significant widening trend of ≈1° latitude/decade was found in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) by either criterion. This contrasts strongly with the Southern Hemisphere (SH), where no statistically significant trends were found. Comparison with ECMWF reanalysis shows good agreement, but the agreement is worse over SH. Substantial differences in seasonal trends were found between NH and SH, with the latter showing strong widening in the austral summer countered by contraction over the austral winter and spring.

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