Why is the atmosphere becoming drier? The roles of atmospheric processes and vegetation feedbacks, and their implications for future climate change


Dr Julie Jones, Department of Geography


Dr Rob Ryant, Department of Geography
Professor Colin Osborne, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences
Dr Kate Willet, UK Met Office Hadley Centre

Grantham Scholar

Florentine Weber

Climate change is a long-term shift in the properties of our atmosphere. One of these properties is relative humidity. Relative humidity describes the amount of water vapour in the air, relative to the temperature of the air. Dry air has a low relative humidity, while fog has a high relative humidity. Observation data shows that relative humidity is decreasing globally over land since the year 2000, especially in regions of mid-latitudes.

My project will be exploring three possible causes, or drivers, for declining near surface relative humidity over land:

I am working with global monitoring products and earth observation data for land use, evapotranspiration and soil moisture. I will also be using computer simulations based on this data, and ecosystem studies. I hope to find out more about water, the fundamental element for life, and the representation of atmosphere-land exchange processes in climate models that predict the future.

This interdisciplinary research is carried out in collaboration with the Climate Monitoring and Attribution Group of the Met Office.