A Raman lidar tropospheric water vapour climatology and height-resolved trend analysis over Payerne, Switzerland

Hicks-Jalali, Shannon; Sica, Robert J.; Martucci, Giovanni; Maillard Barras, Eliane; Voirin, Jordan; Haefele, Alexander

Water vapour is the strongest greenhouse gas in our atmosphere, and its strength and its dependence on temperature lead to a strong feedback mechanism in both the troposphere and the stratosphere. Raman water vapour lidars can be used to make high-vertical-resolution measurements on the order of tens of metres, making height-resolved trend analyses possible. Raman water vapour lidars have not typically been used for trend analyses, primarily due to the lack of long-enough time series. However, the Raman Lidar for Meteorological Observations (RALMO), located in Payerne, Switzerland, is capable of making operational water vapour measurements and has one of the longest ground-based and well-characterized data sets available. We have calculated an 11.5-year water vapour climatology using RALMO measurements in the troposphere. Our study uses nighttime measurements during mostly clear conditions, which creates a natural selection bias. The climatology shows that the highest water vapour specific-humidity concentrations are in the summer months and the lowest in the winter months. We have also calculated the geophysical variability of water vapour. The percentage of variability of water vapour in the free troposphere is larger than in the boundary layer.

We have also determined water vapour trends from 2009 to 2019. We first calculate precipitable water vapour (PWV) trends for comparison with the majority of water vapour trend studies. We detect a nighttime precipitable water vapour trend of 1.3 mm per decade using RALMO measurements, which is significant at the 90 % level. The trend is consistent with a 1.38 inline-formulaC per decade surface temperature trend detected by coincident radiosonde measurements under the assumption that relative humidity remains constant; however, it is larger than previous water vapour trend values. We compare the nighttime RALMO PWV trend to daytime and nighttime PWV trends using operational radiosonde measurements and find them to agree with each other. We cannot detect a bias between the daytime and nighttime trends due to the large uncertainties in the trends. For the first time, we show height-resolved increases in water vapour through the troposphere. We detect positive tropospheric water vapour trends ranging from a 5 % change in specific humidity per decade to 15 % specific humidity per decade depending on the altitude. The water vapour trends at five layers are statistically significant at or above the 90 % level.

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Hicks-Jalali, Shannon / Sica, Robert J. / Martucci, Giovanni / et al: A Raman lidar tropospheric water vapour climatology and height-resolved trend analysis over Payerne, Switzerland. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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