McInerney WACCMX climate observations

Five-year zonal mean decadal value differences relative to the 1920s at March equinox (top) and June solstice (bottom) for neutral temperature on the 2.84×10-8 hPa pressure surface a) at ~295 km and e) at ~285 km, neutral density b) at ~377 km and f) at ~395 km, electron density c) at ~377 km and g) at ~395 km, and d) and h) electron column density.

Journal of Geophysical Research, Atmospheres:  From seeing lower atmosphere computer climate models run for the past century, we decided to do the same for the upper atmosphere using the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model-eXtended (WACCM-X) for the decades from the 1920s to 2010s. In this higher region, the atmosphere is affected strongly by the Sun and removing the Sun’s effect is tricky in previous observation and model studies. We make the Sun’s effect small to see only effects from the Earth’s magnetic field and greenhouse gases. Earlier studies focused on recent decades show effects of greenhouse gas increases on the upper atmosphere but not for the early decades of the past century with greenhouse gas changes from less than 5% increase prior to the space age and the transition to the over 25% increase in the latter half of the 20th century. We cover this entire period and get results like those in studies before, with especially the temperature change matching very well with the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide change. Because WACCM-X performs well over the past century, it will be useful to predict what will happen in the century ahead as greenhouse gases increase and humans make efforts to reverse the increase.