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It's a Complex World: Part 2
Reference
Gaffen, D.J., Santer, B.D., Boyle, J.S., Christy, J.R., Graham, N.E. and Ross, R.J.  2000.  Multidecadal changes in the vertical temperature structure of the tropical troposphere.  Science 287: 1242-1245.

What was done
The authors searched for explanations for the discrepancy that exists between the thermometer-derived surface air temperature trend and the satellite-derived lower tropospheric temperature trend between 1979 and 1998 in the tropics, where the difference between the two trends is most pronounced, analyzing temperature data obtained from weather balloons as well.

What was learned
Try as they might, the researchers could not get their most sophisticated climate models to reproduce the real-world temperature observations.  In fact, they concluded that "we may never have a complete understanding of the complex behavior of tropical tropospheric temperatures, lapse rates, and freezing levels during the past few decades."

What it means
If the researchers are serious in stating that we may never have a complete understanding of the complex behavior of tropical tropospheric temperatures over the past few decades - and we believe they are - what are the chances that we will ever be able to adequately predict even longer temperature trends in the future?  We think you will agree with us that the odds are not very great in our favor.


Reviewed 15 April 2000