Reexamining the warming in the tropical upper troposphere: Models versus radiosonde observations



[1] A recent study of 1979–2010 tropical tropospheric temperature trends in climate model simulations and satellite microwave sounding unit (MSU) observations concluded that, although both showed greater warming in the upper than lower troposphere, the vertical amplification of warming was exaggerated in most models. We repeat that analysis of temperature trends, vertical difference trends, and trend ratios using five radiosonde datasets. Some, but not all, comparisons support the notion that vertical amplification in models exceeds that observed. However, larger ranges of radiosonde trends compared with those for MSU, and the sensitivity of results to the upper-tropospheric level analyzed, make it difficult to conclude unambiguously that models are inconsistent with radiosonde observations. The larger ranges are due to the availability of more radiosonde datasets with different approaches for adjusting measurement biases. Together these two studies highlight challenges of using imperfect observations of tropical tropospheric temperature over a few decades to assess climate model performance.