Upper Air - January 2011


Contents of this Section:


Note: Beginning in December 2010, all lower troposphere, middle troposphere, and lower stratosphere satellite data are reported here with respect to the 1981–2010 base period. Prior to December 2010, data were reported with respect to the 1979–1998 base period. Remote Sensing Systems continues to provide data to NCDC with respect to the 1979–1998 base period; however, NCDC readjusts the data to the 1981–2010 base period so that the satellite measurements are comparable.


Note: Effective with the Janaury 2011 report, Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) transitioned to a new version (3.3) of the RSS MSU/AMSU atmospheric temperature datasets. Information about the differences between version 3.2 and 3.3 is available.


Upper Air Highlights


  • University of Alabama Huntsville satellite analyses report a lower troposphere January 2011 temperature equal to the 1981–2010 average, the 17th coolest (17th warmest) since satellite records began in 1979.

  • Remote Sensing Systems satellite analyses report a lower troposphere January temperature anomaly of 0.03°C (-0.06°F) below average, the 16th coolest (18th warmest) on record.

  • University of Alabama Huntsville satellite analyses report a January 2011 mid troposphere temperature anomaly of 0.14°C (0.25°F) below average, the eighth coolest (26th warmest) such period on record. When these analyses are adjusted to remove stratospheric influence, the anomaly decreases to 0.10°C (0.18°F) below average, the 13th coolest (21st warmest) on record.

  • Remote Sensing Systems satellite analyses report a January 2011 mid troposphere temperature anomaly of 0.09°C (0.16°F) below average, the 13th coolest (21st warmest) such period on record. When these analyses are adjusted to remove stratospheric influence, the anomaly decreases to 0.05°C (0.09°F) below average, the 17th coolest (17th warmest) on record.

  • For the lower stratosphere, both University of Alabama Huntsville and Remote Sensing System satellite analyses report that January 2011 was the 16th coolest (18th warmest) January since satellite records began in 1979.

  • Troposphere

    Temperatures above the Earth's surface are measured within the lower troposphere, middle troposphere, and stratosphere using in-situ balloon-borne instruments (radiosondes) and polar-orbiting satellites (NOAA's TIROS-N). The radiosonde and satellite records have been adjusted to remove time-dependent biases (artificialities caused by changes in radiosonde instruments and measurement practices as well as changes in satellite instruments and orbital features through time). Global averages from radiosonde data are available from 1958 to present, while satellite measurements date back to 1979.

    Lower Troposphere

    Current Month

    These temperatures are for the lowest 8 km (5 miles) of the atmosphere. Information on the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) sources of troposphere data is available.

    January Anomaly Rank
    (out of 33 years)
    Warmest Year on RecordTrend
    UAH low-trop +0.00°C/+0.00°F 17th warmest 2010 (+0.55°C/+0.99°F)* +0.13°C/decade
    RSS low-trop -0.03°C/-0.06°F 18th warmest 2010 (+0.48°C/+0.86°F)* +0.14°C/decade

    Mid-troposphere

    Current Month

    These temperatures are for the atmospheric layer centered in the mid-troposphere (approximately 3–10 km [2–6 miles] above the Earth's surface), which also includes a portion of the lower stratosphere. (The Microwave Sounding Unit [MSU] channel used to measure mid-tropospheric temperatures receives about 25 percent of its signal above 10 km [6 miles].) Because the stratosphere has cooled due to increasing greenhouse gases in the troposphere and losses of ozone in the stratosphere, the stratospheric contribution to the tropospheric average, as measured from satellites, may create an artificial component of cooling to the mid-troposphere temperatures. The University of Washington (UW) versions of the UAH and RSS analyses attempt to remove the stratospheric influence from the mid-troposphere measurements, and as a result the UW versions tend to have a larger warming trend than either the UAH or RSS versions. For additional information, please see NCDC's Microwave Sounding Unit page.

    Satellite data have been adjusted by the Global Hydrology and Climate Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). An independent analysis is also performed by Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) and a third analysis has been performed by Dr. Qiang Fu of the University of Washington (UW) (Fu et al. 2004) to remove the influence of the stratosphere on the mid-troposphere value. Global averages from radiosonde data are available from 1958 to present, while satellite measurements began in 1979.

    Satellite measurements indicate that for January 2011, temperatures were above average, resulting in the second warmest—behind 1998—January since satellite records began in 1979.

    January Anomaly Rank
    (out of 33 years)
    Warmest Year on Record Trend
    UAH mid-trop -0.14°C/-0.25°F 26th warmest 1998 (+0.48°C/+0.86°F) +0.02°C/decade
    RSS mid-trop -0.09°C/-0.16°F 21st warmest 1998 (+0.45°C/+0.81°F) +0.08°C/decade
    UW-UAH mid-trop -0.10°C/-0.18°F 21st warmest 1998 (+0.57°C/+1.03°F) +0.08°C/decade
    UW-RSS mid-trop -0.05°C/-0.09°F 17th warmest 1998 (+0.53°C/+0.95°F) +0.14°C/decade

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    Stratosphere

    Current Month

    The table below summarizes stratospheric conditions for January 2011. On average, the stratosphere is located approximately 16–23 km (10–14 miles) above the Earth's surface. Over the last decade, stratospheric temperatures have been below average in part due to the depletion of ozone. The large positive anomaly in 1982 was caused by the volcanic eruption of El Chichon in Mexico, and the sharp jump in temperature in 1991 was a result of the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines. In both cases the temperatures returned to pre-eruption levels within two years.

    January Anomaly Rank
    (out of 33 years)
    Coolest Year on Record
    UAH stratosphere -0.17°C (-0.31°F) 16th coolest 2006 (-0.57°C/-1.03°F)
    RSS stratosphere -0.14°C (-0.26°F) 16th coolest 2006 (-0.58°C/-1.05°F)

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    For additional details on precipitation and temperatures in January, see the Global Analysis page.


    References

    Christy, John R., R.W. Spencer, and W.D. Braswell, 2000: MSU tropospheric Temperatures: Dataset Construction and Radiosonde Comparisons. J. of Atmos. and Oceanic Technology, 17, 1153-1170.

    Free, M., D.J. Seidel, J.K. Angell, J. Lanzante, I. Durre and T.C. Peterson (2005) Radiosonde Atmospheric Temperature Products for Assessing Climate (RATPAC): A new dataset of large-area anomaly time series, J. Geophys. Res., 10.1029/2005JD006169.

    Free, M., J.K. Angell, I. Durre, J. Lanzante, T.C. Peterson and D.J. Seidel(2004), Using first differences to reduce inhomogeneity in radiosonde temperature datasets, J. Climate, 21, 4171-4179.

    Fu, Q., C.M. Johanson, S.G. Warren, and D.J. Seidel, 2004: Contribution of stratospheric cooling to satellite-inferred tropospheric temperature trends. Nature, 429, 55-58.

    Lanzante, J.R., S.A. Klein, and D.J. Seidel (2003a), Temporal homogenization of monthly radiosonde temperature data. Part I: Methodology, J. Climate, 16, 224-240.

    Lanzante, J.R., S.A. Klein, and D.J. Seidel (2003b), Temporal homogenization of monthly radiosonde temperature data. Part II: trends, sensitivities, and MSU comparison, J. Climate, 16, 241 262.

    Mears, CA, FJ Wentz, 2009, Construction of the RSS V3.2 lower tropospheric dataset from the MSU and AMSU microwave sounders. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 26, 1493-1509.

    Mears, CA, FJ Wentz, 2009, Construction of the Remote Sensing Systems V3.2 atmopsheric temperature records from the MSU and AMSU microwave sounders. Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 26, 1040-1056.

    Mears, Carl A., M.C. Schabel, F.J. Wentz, 2003: A Reanalysis of the MSU Channel 2 tropospheric Temperature Record. J. Clim, 16, 3650-3664.

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    Citing This Report

    NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Upper Air for January 2011, published online February 2011, retrieved on April 27, 2017 from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/upper-air/201101.