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Temporal evolution of surface humidity in Spain: Recent trends and possible physical mechanisms

AutorVicente Serrano, Sergio M. ; Azorín-Molina, César ; Sánchez-Lorenzo, Arturo ; Morán-Tejeda, Enrique ; Lorenzo-Lacruz, Jorge ; Revuelto, Jesús ; López-Moreno, Juan I. ; Espejo, Francisco
Palabras claveGlobal warming
Specific humidity
Relative humidity
Water vapor
Climate change
Fecha de publicación2014
CitaciónClimate Dynamics 42 (9-10): 2655-2674 (2014)
ResumenWe analyzed the evolution of surface relative humidity (RH) and specific humidity (q) in Spain, based on complete records available from the State Meteorological Agency of Spain. The surface RH records used span the period 1920-2011, but because of spatial and temporal constraints in the dataset we used a subset of the data, covering the period 1961-2011. The subset contained 50 monthly series of RH, which were created through a process of quality control, reconstruction and homogenization. The data shows that there was a large decrease in RH over mainland Spain from 1961 to 2011, which was greatest in spring and summer. In contrast, there was no overall change in the specific humidity in this period, except in spring, when an increase was observed. The decrease in RH affected the entire country, but the changes in specific humidity were less homogeneous. For specific humidity there was a general increase in the northern and eastern parts of Spain, whereas negative trends dominated in the central and southern areas, mainly during the summer months. The results suggest that an increase in the water holding capacity of the atmosphere as a consequence of warming during recent decades has not been accompanied by an increase in the surface water vapor content, probably because the supply of water vapor from the main terrestrial and oceanic areas has been constrained. We discuss the implications of these findings for evapotranspiration processes, precipitation and water management in Spain. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00382-013-1885-7
Identificadoresdoi: 10.1007/s00382-013-1885-7
issn: 1432-0894
e-issn: 1432-0894
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