This study was based on satellite data that measures the heat the earth is radiating back into space. That level has been dropping as the earth traps more of the sun's heat. This new study confirms what climate scientists have suspected, that a very large driver of Global Warming, water vapor in Upper-Troposphere in indeed increasing just as predicted.
Global warming is moistening the atmosphere\
Human-caused global warming is causing the upper troposphere to become wetter
By John Abraham
We have long suspected that greenhouse gases which cause the Earth to warm would lead to a wetter atmosphere. The latest research published by Eul-Seok Chung, Brian Soden, and colleagues provides new insight into what was thought to be an old problem. In doing so, they experimentally verified what climate models have been predicting. The models got it right… again.
The authors show that the long-term increase in water vapor in the upper troposphere cannot have resulted from natural causes – it is clearly human caused. This conclusion is stated in the abstract,
Our analysis demonstrates that the upper-tropospheric moistening observed over the period 1979–2005 cannot be explained by natural causes and results principally from an anthropogenic warming of the climate. By attributing the observed increase directly to human activities, this study verifies the presence of the largest known feedback mechanism for amplifying anthropogenic climate change.As stated earlier, climate models have predicted this moistening – before observations were available. In fact, the models predicted that the upper troposphere would moisten more than the lower atmospheric layers. As the authors state,
Given the importance of upper-tropospheric water vapor, a direct verification of its feedback is critical to establishing the credibility of model projections of anthropogenic climate change.
Sure enough, only the calculations that included human-emitted greenhouse gases matched the observations. The authors conclude that,This gives a concise description of why moisture in the Upper-Troposphere is so critical in determining climate:
Concerning the satellite-derived moistening trend in recent decades, the relations of trend and associated range among three experiments lead to the conclusion that an increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gases is the main cause of increased moistening in the upper troposphere.
The authors then went further by showing that their computed results encompass third-party measurements only when the impacts of human-emitted greenhouse gases are included.
I chuckled when I asked Dr. Andrew Dessler about this study, and he told me,
Because of water vapor’s importance as a greenhouse gas, the water vapor feedback occupies a central role in the climate system. Over the years, our understanding of this process has increased steadily, and this paper is a very useful contribution. It nicely demonstrates that the observations of upper tropospheric moistening are unlikely to have arisen without the increase in carbon dioxide from human activities. At this point, I think it would be fair to say, “stick a fork in it, the water vapor feedback’s done.”
So once again, observations have confirmed the models and the scientists can check another item off their “to do” box.
The TroposphereThis study shows without a doubt that our activities as humans are changing the makeup of the upper atmosphere adding water vapor. That water vapor is heating our planet and in turn the heating adds more water vapor to the Upper-Troposphere in the mother of all feedback loops contributing to Global Warming.
As sunlight enters the atmosphere, a portion is immediately reflected back to space, but the rest penetrates the atmosphere and is absorbed by the earth's surface. This energy is then remitted by the earth back into atmosphere as long-wave radiation. Carbon dioxide and water molecules absorb this energy and emit much of it back towards the earth again. This delicate exchange of energy between the earth's surface and atmosphere keeps the average global temperature from changing drastically from year to year.
This video is well worth watching.