Changes of the tropical tropopause layer under global warming

Pu Lin, David Paynter, Yi Ming, V. Ramaswamy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


This paper investigates changes in the tropical tropopause layer (TTL) in response to carbon dioxide increase and surface warming separately in an atmospheric general circulation model, finding that both effects lead to a warmer tropical tropopause. Surface warming also results in an upward shift of the tropopause. A detailed heat budget analysis is performed to quantify the contributions from different radiative and dynamic processes to changes in the TTL temperature. When carbon dioxide increases with fixed surface temperature, a warmer TTL mainly results from the direct radiative effect of carbon dioxide increase. With surface warming, the largest contribution to the TTL warming comes from the radiative effect of the warmer troposphere, which is partly canceled by the radiative effect of the moistening at the TTL. Strengthening of the stratospheric circulation following surface warming cools the lower stratosphere dynamically and radiatively via changes in ozone. These two effects are of comparable magnitudes. This circulation change is the main cause of temperature changes near 63 hPa but is weak near 100 hPa. Contributions from changes in convection and clouds are also quantified. These results illustrate the heat budget analysis as a useful tool to disentangle the radiative-dynamical-chemical-convective coupling at the TTL and to facilitate an understanding of intermodel difference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1245-1258
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


  • Climate change
  • General circulation models
  • Radiative transfer
  • Stratosphere-troposphere coupling
  • Tropopause


Dive into the research topics of 'Changes of the tropical tropopause layer under global warming'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this