The clear-sky greenhouse effect response to a sea surface temperature (SST or Ts) change is studied using outgoing clear-sky longwave radiation measurements from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment. Considering geographical distributions for July 1987, the relation between the SST, the greenhouse effect (defined as the outgoing infrared flux trapped by atmospheric gases), and the precipitable water vapor content (W), estimated by the Special Sensor Microwave Imager, is analyzed first. A fairly linear relation between W and the normalized greenhouse effect g, is found. On the contrary, the SST dependence of both W and g exhibits nonlinearities with, especially, a large increase for SST above 25 C. This enhanced sensitivity of g and W can be interpreted in part by a corresponding large increase of atmospheric water vapor content related to the transition from subtropical dry regions to equatorial moist regions. Using two years of data (1985 and 1986), the normalized greenhouse effect sensitivity to the sea surface temperature is computed from the interannual variation of monthly mean values.
METEOROLOGY AND CLIMATOLOGY
Journal of Climate (ISSN 0894-8755); 4; 1162-116