Underestimated change of wet-bulb temperatures over East and South China

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Abstract / Description of output

Wet-bulb temperature (TW), which combines dry-bulb temperature and relative humidity (RH), is a key variable for human health and heat stress because in hot environments evaporation is the main process by which bodies cool down. For this study, we use two independent RH datasets: A new homogenized network of daily ground observations in China and the recent ERA5 reanalysis, for which we highlight the need to apply humidity correction. Based on these datasets, we show that Chinese wet-bulb temperatures since 1980 have increased largely due to a rise in dry-bulb temperatures while RH has remained approximately constant. We also find that TW change has been previously underestimated due to humidity bias in reanalysis and non-homogenized observation where RH was decreasing sharply after 2000s, greatly limiting changes in TW.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number3
Early online date15 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2020


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