About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us

Critical Component of Climate Change Could be Water Vapor

by Tanya Thomas on November 20, 2008 at 9:32 AM
Font : A-A+

 Critical Component of Climate Change Could be Water Vapor

The heat-trapping effect of water in the air has sealed the fact that water vapor is a critical component of climate change, explain researchers after using recent NASA satellite data more precisely.

Andrew Dessler and colleagues from Texas A and M University in College Station confirmed that the heat-amplifying effect of water vapor is potent enough to double the climate warming caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.


With new observations, the scientists confirmed experimentally what existing climate models had anticipated theoretically.

The research team used novel data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder-AIRS- on NASA's Aqua satellite to measure precisely the humidity throughout the lowest 10 miles of the atmosphere.

That information was combined with global observations of shifts in temperature, allowing researchers to build a comprehensive picture of the interplay between water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other atmosphere-warming gases.

"Everyone agrees that if you add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, then warming will result," Dessler said. "So the real question is, how much warming?" he added.

The answer can be found by estimating the magnitude of water vapor feedback.

Increasing water vapor leads to warmer temperatures, which causes more water vapor to be absorbed into the air. Warming and water absorption increase in a spiraling cycle.

Water vapor feedback can also amplify the warming effect of other greenhouse gases, such that the warming brought about by increased carbon dioxide allows more water vapor to enter the atmosphere.

"The difference in an atmosphere with a strong water vapor feedback and one with a weak feedback is enormous," Dessler said.

Using data from AIRS, the research team observed how atmospheric water vapor reacted to shifts in surface temperatures between 2003 and 2008.

By determining how humidity changed with surface temperature, the team could compute the average global strength of the water vapor feedback.

"This new data set shows that as surface temperature increases, so does atmospheric humidity," Dessler said.

"Dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere makes the atmosphere more humid. And since water vapor is itself a greenhouse gas, the increase in humidity amplifies the warming from carbon dioxide," he added.

Specifically, the team found that if Earth warms 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, the associated increase in water vapor will trap an extra 2 Watts of energy per square meter.

"That number may not sound like much, but add up all of that energy over the entire Earth surface and you find that water vapor is trapping a lot of energy," Dessler said.

"We now think the water vapor feedback is extraordinarily strong, capable of doubling the warming due to carbon dioxide alone," he added.

Source: ANI

News A-Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Cochlear Implants may Consequently Drive Hearing Loss
E-cigarettes Use Linked to Erectile Dysfunction
Memory Loss - Can it be Recovered?
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Health Effects of Global Warming Global Warming Water - Nutrient that Beats the Heat Tips for Healthy Fasting During Ramadhan Water Matters: Why You Need to Drink Enough Water Everyday 

Recommended Reading
Climate Change and Acid Rain Could Be Actually Good for Forests
A research spanning 20 years has determined that climate change and acid rain could actually be ......
Study Claims Recent Climate Change More Significant Than Ever
A new study has determined that while Earth experienced numerous changes in climate over the past .....
Future Impacts of Climate Change Can be Predicted Using Oceanographic Data
Ecologists and oceanographers have predicted the future impacts of climate change by reconstructing ...
Powerful Greenhouse Gas 4 Times More Prevalent in Atmosphere Than Believed
A new research has indicated that a powerful greenhouse gas is at least four times more prevalent .....
Health Effects of Global Warming
Greenhouse effect causes excessive heat to build up in the earth’s atmosphere causing global warming...
Tips for Healthy Fasting During Ramadhan
Ramadhan calls for a change in your food habits, and to help you glide through it easily, here we’ve...
Water - Nutrient that Beats the Heat
Dehydration, acidity, loss of energy are common problems that often occur due to insufficient water ...
Water Matters: Why You Need to Drink Enough Water Everyday
Water is essential to balance body fluids, boost brain function, improve digestion, prevent kidney s...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use