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Title: Trends in U.S. Surface Humidity, 1930–2010

Abstract

U.S. hourly surface observations are investigated at 145 stations to identify annual and seasonal changes in temperature, dewpoint, relative humidity, and specific humidity since 1930. Due to numerous systematic instrument changes that have occurred, a homogeneity assessment was performed on temperatures and dewpoints. Dewpoints contained higher breakpoint detection rates associated with instrumentation changes than did temperatures. Temperature trends were tempered by adjusting the data, whereas dewpoints were unaffected. The effects were the same whether the adjustments were based on statistically detected or fixed-year breakpoints. Average long-term trends (1930–2010) suggest that temperature has warmed but that little change has occurred in dewpoint and specific humidity. Warming is strongest in spring. There is evidence of inhomogeneity in the relative humidity record that primarily affects data from prior to 1950. Therefore, long-term decreases in relative humidity, which are strongest in winter, need to be viewed with caution. Trends since 1947 indicate that the warming of temperatures has coincided with increases in dewpoints and a moistening of specific humidity. This moistening is especially pronounced during the summer in the Midwest. For the nation, trends in relative humidity show little change for the period 1947–2010, during which these data are more homogeneous. Moistening has occurredmore » throughout the central United States while other regions have experienced drying. Urban-related warming and drying trends are present in the data, but their effect is minimal. Regional changes in land use and moisture availability are likely influencing trends in atmospheric moisture.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2]
  1. Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (United States); Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO (United States)
  2. Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
OSTI Identifier:
1565082
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 52; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 1558-8424
Publisher:
American Meteorological Society
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Climate change; Surface temperature; Water vapor

Citation Formats

Brown, Paula J., and DeGaetano, Arthur T. Trends in U.S. Surface Humidity, 1930–2010. United States: N. p., 2013. Web. doi:10.1175/jamc-d-12-035.1.
Brown, Paula J., & DeGaetano, Arthur T. Trends in U.S. Surface Humidity, 1930–2010. United States. doi:10.1175/jamc-d-12-035.1.
Brown, Paula J., and DeGaetano, Arthur T. Wed . "Trends in U.S. Surface Humidity, 1930–2010". United States. doi:10.1175/jamc-d-12-035.1. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1565082.
@article{osti_1565082,
title = {Trends in U.S. Surface Humidity, 1930–2010},
author = {Brown, Paula J. and DeGaetano, Arthur T.},
abstractNote = {U.S. hourly surface observations are investigated at 145 stations to identify annual and seasonal changes in temperature, dewpoint, relative humidity, and specific humidity since 1930. Due to numerous systematic instrument changes that have occurred, a homogeneity assessment was performed on temperatures and dewpoints. Dewpoints contained higher breakpoint detection rates associated with instrumentation changes than did temperatures. Temperature trends were tempered by adjusting the data, whereas dewpoints were unaffected. The effects were the same whether the adjustments were based on statistically detected or fixed-year breakpoints. Average long-term trends (1930–2010) suggest that temperature has warmed but that little change has occurred in dewpoint and specific humidity. Warming is strongest in spring. There is evidence of inhomogeneity in the relative humidity record that primarily affects data from prior to 1950. Therefore, long-term decreases in relative humidity, which are strongest in winter, need to be viewed with caution. Trends since 1947 indicate that the warming of temperatures has coincided with increases in dewpoints and a moistening of specific humidity. This moistening is especially pronounced during the summer in the Midwest. For the nation, trends in relative humidity show little change for the period 1947–2010, during which these data are more homogeneous. Moistening has occurred throughout the central United States while other regions have experienced drying. Urban-related warming and drying trends are present in the data, but their effect is minimal. Regional changes in land use and moisture availability are likely influencing trends in atmospheric moisture.},
doi = {10.1175/jamc-d-12-035.1},
journal = {Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology},
number = 1,
volume = 52,
place = {United States},
year = {2013},
month = {1}
}

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