Aug 23, 2011

Observed Changes in Surface Atmospheric Energy over Land

Thomas C. Peterson, Katharine M. Willett and Peter W. Thorne
Geophysical Research Letters
  • States surface temperature, or, more accurately, enthalpy which can be calculated from temperature, is only one component of the energy content of the surface atmosphere—the other parts including kinetic energy and latent heat
  • Examines all three of these components of atmospheric energetics and finds a significant increase in global surface atmospheric energy since the 1970s
  • ​Finds kinetic energy has decreased but by over two orders of magnitude less than the increases in both enthalpy and latent heat which provide approximately equal contributions to the global increases in heat content
  • Finds the enthalpy or the latent heat component can dominate the change in heat content regionally
  • Finds that although changes in latent heat and enthalpy generally act in concert, in some regions they can have the opposite signs