Tropospheric water vapor, convection, and climate
Article first published online: 13 APR 2010
Copyright 2010 by the American Geophysical Union.
Reviews of Geophysics
Volume 48, Issue 2, June 2010
How to Cite
2010), Tropospheric water vapor, convection, and climate, Rev. Geophys., 48, RG2001, doi:10.1029/2009RG000301., , , and (
- Issue published online: 13 APR 2010
- Article first published online: 13 APR 2010
- Manuscript Accepted: 20 OCT 2009
- Manuscript Received: 12 JUN 2009
- water vapor;
- climate change;
- climate feedbacks
 Recent progress is reviewed in the understanding of convective interaction with water vapor and changes associated with water vapor in warmer climates. Progress includes new observing techniques (including isotopic methods) that are helping to illuminate moisture-convection interaction, better observed humidity trends, new modeling approaches, and clearer expectations as to the hydrological consequences of increased specific humidity in a warmer climate. A theory appears to be in place to predict humidity in the free troposphere if winds are known at large scales, providing a crucial link between small-scale behavior and large-scale mass and energy constraints. This, along with observations, supports the anticipated water vapor feedback on climate, though key uncertainties remain connected to atmospheric dynamics and the hydrological consequences of a moister atmosphere. More work is called for to understand how circulations on all scales are governed and what role water vapor plays. Suggestions are given for future research.