Influence of the vertical structure of the atmosphere on the seasonal variation of precipitable water and greenhouse effect
By using satellite observations and European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts analyses, we study the seasonal variations of the precipitable water and the greenhouse effect, defined as the normalized difference between the longwave flux emitted at the surface and that emergent at the top of the atmosphere. Results show a strong systematic influence of the vertical structure of the atmosphere on geographical and seasonal variations of both precipitable water and greenhouse effect. Over ocean, in middle and high latitudes, the seasonal variation of the mean temperature lapse rate in the troposphere leads to large seasonal phase lags between greenhouse effect and precipitable water. By contrast, the seasonal variation of the clear-sky greenhouse effect over tropical oceans is mainly driven by the total atmospheric transmittance and thus by precipitable water variations. Over land, the seasonal variation of the tropospheric lapse rate acts to amplify the radiative impact of water vapor changes, giving a strong seasonal variation of the greenhouse effect. Over tropical land regions, monsoon activity generates a seasonal phase lag between surface temperature and relative humidity variations that gives a seasonal lag of about 2 months between the surface temperature and the clear-sky greenhouse effect. Generally, the cloudiness amplifies clear-sky tendencies. Finally, as an illustration, obtained results are used to evaluate the general circulation model of the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique.