Science Update: Extending water vapour trend observations into the tropopause region: Trend uncertainties and resulting radiative forcing

A recent JGR article by A. Kunz and co-authors uses thirty years of balloon-borne measurements to investigate the water vapour trend in the tropopause region over Boulder, Colorado, USA. They apply two new concepts: trends are presented on a thermal tropopause (TP) relative coordinate system and sonde profiles are selected according to TP height. Although this should reduce the dynamically induced water vapour variability at the TP, their results suggest there is still significant uncertainty in trends at altitudes -2 to +4km around the TP. This uncertainty in turn has an influence on the uncertainty and interpretation of water vapour radiative effects at the TP, which are locally estimated for the 30-year period to be of uncertain sign. Their results also do not indicate any detectable decrease in water vapour at the beginning of 2001. However, on the lower stratospheric isentropes, the water vapour change for this period is stronger for extra-tropical than for tropical air mass types, suggesting a possible link to changing dynamics above the jet stream. The full abstract can be found here.